It is known that in WW1 "battle" gas was used for the first time. This information is used in a plethora of sci-fi stories and comics. For example it is used in Wonder Woman. What if the substances that were tested for their "effectiveness" as a battle gas would have suddenly started spreading from factories around the world? The epicenter of this catastrophe will probably be Germany and all around.

The main question is whether it is possible to spread those fumes all around the world by meteorological shifting of our planet?

I am looking on problem where I want to use this as a mechanics for human physiological changes.

Example: "Various substances were mixed in the stratosphere, where different gases will have different abilites and the mixture will be spread around the world and distributed with heavy rain back down on the surface."

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    $\begingroup$ How much mustard gas are we talking about? The atmosphere is big, and the gas won't remain effective for a very long time. They did use poison gas in WW1, such as phosgene and mustard gas; not only Germany used chemical weapons, but also France and the United Kingdom -- no reason to single out Germany. However, the total amount of poison gas ever produced worldwide is nowhere near enough to have a significant effect on a global scale. And the different chemical weapons has different abilities only in the sense that they will kill you in different ways; chemical weapons are not subtle at all. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 24, 2017 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


The planet is too big to deliver enough amount of gases to make a difference in worldwide scale.

Look at the Krakatoa explosion:

Impact: The final explosive eruption was heard 4,830 km (3,000 miles) away, caused at least 36,417 deaths; 20 million tons of sulfur released into the atmosphere; produced a volcanic winter (reducing worldwide temperatures by an average of 1.2 °C (2.2 °F) for five years)

And they don't even mention the mass of ashes and other released things. If you have enough factories to be able to release millions of tons of material, you may be able to impact bigger part of the world.

However, over time, the released particles from even one spot will travel all around the world, if you supply enough of them.

  • $\begingroup$ This is great example. Thank you very much for your answer. $\endgroup$
    – Ernedar
    Aug 25, 2017 at 6:33

The answer is "yes, but..."
The reactions used to produce Phosgene, Mustard gas, and other WWI-era chemical weapons requires people to oversee their production. There would need to be some sort of accident at the factories for the gas to leak as catastrophically as you're implying in your question and any sort of leak of that magnitude would kill off the people running the production. The gas could certainly be moved about meteorologically, but doing so would also dilute it unless the factories are constantly producing the gas. Eventually they will run out of some necessary material or other, and without people there to work things, gas production will stop, and you'll be left with a radius around the factories where everyone is dead, and an area downwind where the severity of injuries decreases the farther you go.

TLDR version:
Yes, it would spread, but it wouldn't be to the extent—or have quite the effects—you're thinking of.


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