Carbon dichloride oxide (COCl2) – most commonly known as phosgene – is synthesized through a reaction between carbon monoxide and chlorine. It can also be released during chlorinated hydrocarbon vapor decomposition of plastics pyrolysis. It can be found in the chemical industry – herbicide and insecticide synthesis – and during the production of pharmaceutical products, dye and chlorination agents. It was being used as a chemical warfare agent during World War l and can still be encountered by farmers in the soil in the North of France.
Phosgene effects on health
As phosgene (COCl2) is extremely toxic, it has been used as a chemical weapon and poison gas during the First World War. This gas is very toxic by inhalation (R26) and causes chemical burns (R34). At ambient temperature, this gas is colorless or sometimes slightly yellowish with a decomposition smell – moldy hay or rotten apple.