Due to the recent death of George Floyd back in late may, protests have erupted across the nation against police brutality. In order to regain control of the situation, many law enforcement agencies across the nation have continuously used tear gas against the protestors. The idea behind the gas is to restore order in areas in which it seems the protests are getting out of hand or hostile.
Some are against the use of the gas, while others are perfectly fine with it being used stating it is justified. However, whether it is justified or not, the tear gas can cause some serious health issues to those who fall victim to it.
Despite the name, tear gas is not actually gas at all. It is actually a pressurized powder that upon deployment creates a mist. The most commonly used form of tear gas is 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile. It was first discovered in 1928 by American scientists. Later in the late 1950’s, the US army started using it to control riots.
Tear gas was originally weaponized for World War 1. However, in 1993, many countries came together and signed a treaty making the use of gas in war illegal. The purpose of this was to prevent any chemical warfare from happening in the future.
Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, pulmonary and critical care physician and assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University states, “Tear gas intention is to cause immediate discomfort to a human… The content and size of the aerosol are designed to immediately impact the eyes and respiratory system (from nose to lungs).”
Essentially, the purpose of the gas is to put someone into the situation where it is difficult to breathe. Alexander Isakov, professor of emergency medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, explained, “They are generally expected to cause a burning sensation and tearing from the eyes, spasm of the eyelids, a burning sensation and running of the nose, sneezing, coughing and superficial skin discomfort.”
The use of the gas has been tested and generally reviewed as safe in large open areas. However it is the delivery of said gas that can cause harm.The gas canisters are deployed at high speeds and can cause some serious harm if hit by one.The gas can also become very dangerous if exposed to it for long periods of time. In 2017, there were documented studies that showed over 9,000 documented injuries as well as 2 deaths from the use of the gas. 58 people suffered from permanent injuries.
Dr. Russell Buhr explained,”These chemicals are not intended to lead to permanent issues, but more immediate discomfort. However, being hit in the eye by the canisters could result in corneal scarring that could lead to temporary or permanent vision loss.”
All in all using tear gas might be a good way to clear out an area and de-escalate hostile situations. However, it seems that there is a large potential for more harm than intended for those the gas is being used on and they may be in need of hiring a personal injury lawyer in Kansas City, like from Royce Injury Attorneys.