\" \" A police officer stands guard in Salisbury, England after British citizens Dawn Sturgess, 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45, were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok on June 30, 2018. Novichok acts like many other nerve agents. From the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons:Muscular paralysis caused by nerve agents also affects the respiratory muscles. Novichok agents are made up of two inert compounds, which are essentially harmless making them easier to handle, transport and hide. From 1945-1989, according to a study by the University of Kent, some 3,400 servicemen took part in nerve agent trials at Porton Down.