Phosgene is the chemical compound with the formula COCl2. This colorless gas gained infamy as a chemical weapon during World War I. It is also a valued industrial reagent and building block in synthesis of pharmaceuticals and other organic compounds. In low concentrations, its odor resembles freshly cut hay or grass. Some soldiers during the First World War stated that it smelled faintly of mayblossom. In addition to its industrial production, small amounts occur naturally from the breakdown and the combustion of organochlorine compounds, such as those used in refrigeration systems. The name, sounding similar to “phosphine”, does not mean it has any phosphorus.

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