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Phosgene, the acid chloride of carbonic acid, is an industrial chemical that was used as a chemical weapon during World War I. It is a choking gas that reacts with water to produce carbon dioxide and hydrogen chloride gas, which is corrosive. Exposure can lead to pulmonary edema and chemical pneumonitis. Phosgene has many different names, including carbon oxychloride, chloroformyl chloride, carbonyl chloride, carbonic dichloride, CG (military) and carbonyl dichloride.


Like its parent compound carbonic acid, phosgene is very reactive and decomposes in the presence of moisture to form carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrochloric acid (HCl). The oxygen atom of water molecules act as nucleophiles and attack the central carbon atom.

(CC) Image: David E. Volk
Phosgene decomposes in the presence of water to form carbon dioxide and hydrogen chloride gas.

(CC) Image: David E. Volk
Phosgene, a chemical weapon and industrial chemical
IUPAC name:
Synonyms: see below
Formula: CCl2O (COCl2)

 Uses: chemical weapon

 Properties: corrosive

 Hazards: corrosive, produces chlorine gas

Mass (g/mol): CAS #:
98.92 75-44-5