Russia’s foreign minister has claimed Sergei and Yulia Skripal were not poisoned by nerve agent novichok, but a separate chemical possessed by the UK and US.
Sergei Lavrov said Moscow had received information from a laboratory in Spiez, Switzerland suggesting the Russian double agent and his daughter were exposed to a non-lethal substance known as BZ.
Discovered in 1951
BZ, known chemically as 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate, is a hallucinogenic chemical warfare agent discovered by Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffman-LaRoche in 1951. Chemists discovered it accidentally while working to create an ulcer medication.
The mostly non-lethal agent is colorless, odorless, and practically insoluble in water, and very powerful. When used as an aerosol (the most common method of application), BZ is absorbed through the respiratory system; it can also be absorbed through the skin or digestive system. It takes about one hour for the agent to begin to take effect, with peak effect reached after 8-10 hours.
According to the Handbook of Toxicology and Chemical Warfare (2015), less than one milligram of BZ administered orally results in incapacitation for several days. Symptoms of exposure to the drug include delirium, tremors, stupor, hallucinations, "and coma that can last for more than 2 days." Other symptoms include paranoia and mania.
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3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate (QNB), 1-azabicyclo[2.2.2]octan-3-yl hydroxy(diphenyl)acetate, EA-2277, BZ, Substance 78, odorless military incapacitating agent by znamenski