Tuesday, March 3, 2009

White Phosphorus

A Brief Introduction On Reading for information

This text considers under the category of reading for information. Reading for information is classified when the source of the reading in form of journals, articles, books, webpage, or even newspaper. This kind of reading enables the reader to find as lot information as they want in order to expand their knowledge.

What is white phosphorus?

White phosphorus is a colorless, white, or yellow waxy solid with a garlic-like odor. It does not occur naturally, but is manufactured from phosphate rocks. White phosphorus reacts rapidly with oxygen, easily catching fire at temperatures 10 to 15 degrees above room temperature. White phosphorus is used by the military in various types of ammunition, and to produce smoke for concealing troop movements and identifying targets. It is also used by industry to produce phosphoric acid and other chemicals for use in fertilizers, food additives, and cleaning compounds. Small amounts of white phosphorus were used in the past in pesticides and fireworks If particles of white phosphorus land on the body, they burn through clothing and stick to the skin, scorching through layer after layer of tissue until their supply of oxygen is cut off. Even when it is not burning, the chemical effects of phosphorus can be absorbed deeper into the body causing multiple organ failure. Different patients react in different ways - some will die from a small burn others will survive. Doctors in Gaza have said patients with 15% burns have surprised them by dying.

Summary of the text

This reading text is about white phosphorus that found in phosphate rock. It reacts with oxygen and will burn when the temperature within 10 to 15 degree. This is dangerous for human especially in term of health. The use of white phosphorus bomb was banned during he Geneva convention because it harms human body when the phosphorus is happen to be exposed to them.Basically when it land to the body it will burn tour skin rapidly until all of your skin tissues burned. White phosphorus is used by the military in various types of ammunition, and to produce smoke for concealing troop movements and identifying targets.



Israel used White Phosphorus against HAMAS targets in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. This violated no international laws or conventions.

White Phosphorus (WP), known as Willy Pete, is used for signaling, screening, and incendiary purposes. White Phosphorus can be used to destroy the enemy's equipment or to limit his vision. It is used against vehicles, petroleum, oils and lubricants (POL) and ammunition storage areas, and enemy observers. WP can be used as an aid in target location and navigation. It is usually dispersed by explosive munitions. It can be fired with fuze time to obtain an airburst. White phosphorus was used most often during World War II in military formulations for smoke screens, marker shells, incendiaries, hand grenades, smoke markers, colored flares, and tracer bullets.

The Battle of Fallujah was conducted from 8 to 20 November 2004 with the last fire mission on 17 November. The battle was fought by an Army, Marine and Iraqi force of about 15,000 under the I Marine Expeditionary Force (IMEF). US forces found WP to be useful in the Battle of Fallujah. "WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out. ... We used improved WP for screening missions when HC smoke would have been more effective and saved our WP for lethal missions."

White phosphorus is not banned by any treaty to which the United States is a signatory. Smokes and obscurants comprise a category of materials that are not used militarily as direct chemical agents. The United States retains its ability to employ incendiaries to hold high-priority military targets at risk in a manner consistent with the principle of proportionality that governs the use of all weapons under existing law. The use of white phosphorus or fuel air explosives are not prohibited or restricted by Protocol III of the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention (CCWC), the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects, which regulates the use of "any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons . . ."

White Phosphorus (WP) - Health Effects

Systemic toxicity may occur if therapy is not administered. Therapy consists of topical use of a bicarbonate solution to neutralize phosphoric acids and mechanical removal and debridement of particles. A Wood’s lamp in a darkened room may help to identify remaining luminescent particles. The early signs of systemic intoxication by phosphorus are abdominal pain, jaundice, and a garlic odor of the breath; prolonged intake may cause anemia, as well as cachexia and necrosis of bone, involving typically the maxilla and mandible (phossy jaw). Prolonged absorption of phosphorus causes necrosis of bones. It is a hepatotoxin.

The presenting complaints of overexposed workers may be toothache and excessive salivation. There may be a dull red appearance of the oral mucosa. One or more teeth may loosen, with subsequent pain and swelling of the jaw; healing may be delayed following dental procedures such as extractions; with necrosis of bone, a sequestrum may develop with sinus tract formation. In a series of 10 cases, the shortest period of exposure to phosphorus fume (concentrations not measured) that led to bone necrosis was 10 months (two cases), and the longest period of exposure was 18 years.

Signs and symptoms include irritation of the eyes and the respiratory tract; abdominal pain, nausea, and jaundice; anemia, cachexia, pain, and loosening of teeth, excessive salivation, and pain and swelling of the jaw; skin and eye burns. Phossy jaw must be differentiated from other forms of osteomyelitis. With phossy jaw, a sequestrum forms in the bone and is released from weeks to months later; the sequestra are light in weight, yellow to brown, osteoporotic, and decalcified, whereas sequestra from acute staphylococcal osteomyelitis are sharp, white spicules of bone, dense and well calcified. In acute staphylococcal osteomyelitis, the radiographic picture changes rapidly and closely follows the clinical course, but with phossy jaw the diagnosis sometimes is clinically obvious before radiological changes are discernible. It is good dental practice to take routine X-ray films of jaws, but experience indicates that necrosis can occur in the absence of any pathology that is visible on the roentgenogram

activity 1

My view on this topic

I am interested in this topic because of the issue that arouse recently of the use of white phosphorus bomb by Israel in Gaza in the present attack on Gaza, despite denials from the Israel that it is using controversial white phosphorus in the densely populated areas of Gaza, photographic evidence to the contrary has shown the shell being used are American-made WP munitions.

Gaza hospitals have witnessed considerable numbers of civilians entering with burns with one technician saying “The burns are very unusual. They don't look like burns we have normally seen. They are third-level burns that we can't seem to control".


  1. Hi Janz,

    Well, your first posting on reading for information regarding white phosphorus is interesting and an eye-opener as far as the attack on Gaza is concerned.

    But, what is activity 1??? Please explain.

    Also, your article on white phosphorus is a bit short and there's no activities involved?

    Dr. Zaini

  2. ok Dr I have just put what u require me to do.......