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Thursday, 7 May 1970

Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

(1)   Do allied forces in Vietnam use gases known as CN, CS and DM, respectively.

(2)   Is life endangered by the military use of CS or DM gas.

(3)   What gases have been held responsible for any deaths of (a) Australian servicemen wearing gas masks and (b) other persons in Vietnam, and in what estimated numbers.

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Allied Forces in Vietnam use CN and CS but not DM.

(2)   In the very low levels of concentration needed to produce temporary incapacitation, neither CS nor DM is lethal. My information is that, at unusually high concentrations, DM may cause the lungs to be damaged and death may follow. CS is regarded as being much safer at very high concentrations. I wish to reiterate that CS gas, as applied to military operations in Vietnam, is used at the very low level of concentration required for temporary incapacitation.

(3)   Carbon monixide has caused the death of one Australian serviceman in Vietnam. A full statement on this matter was made by the Minister for Supply in the Senate on 22nd April 1969. I can give no information on the matters raised in part 3 (b) of the question.

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