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Secular Citizen MD @secularcitizen2
, 11 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
A physicians assessment of tear gas.

Tear gas is a harmless, natural, agent that causes only temporary pain and discomfort. It's a safe alternative to other means of controlling riots and reclaiming order. Sounds like it's not that big of a deal, right?


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Tear gas is, in the words of the Geneva Convention, a chemical warfare agent that is prohibited for use in warfare under the Chemical Weapons Convention. There is no safe form of tear gas. But let's explore how dangerous this chemical is.

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While government & law enforcement officials contend that the effects of tear gas are only temporary, the fact is that even minimal exposure has severe long-term health implications, and while rare, can be immediately lethal.

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While the immediate symptoms of being exposed to tear gas generally subside within 30 minutes, there is a high incidence of even brief exposure leading to long-term and potentially life-threatening medical conditions.

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It has been found that tear gas can lead to severe epithelial lung damage, and some people have experienced coughing, wheezing, and dyspnea persisting for more than two years from a single exposure during a protest where tear gas was used.

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Tear gas exposure has been found even to fuse contact lenses to a person's eyes, causing permanent blindness. Those with chronic health problems could suffer from life-threatening reactions requiring immediate medical intervention.

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Tear gas exposure has been linked to severe epithelial lung damage, and others have experienced coughing, wheezing, and dyspnea persisting for more than two years from a single exposure during a protest where tear gas was used.

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In a recent comprehensive study of over five hundred people who inhaled tear gas while participating in public protests, over 80% suffered from a persistent cough throughout the two years they were monitored.

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In that same study, 70% reported breathing problems, increased phlegm production, and 43% complained of sporadic chest pain throughout the two years of the study.

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Being exposed to tear gases decreases maximal mid expiratory flows in both smokers and nonsmokers. Chronic bronchitis is increased among exposed subjects although this rate does not reach statistical significance.

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Almost all of the complaints related to the upper and lower respiratory tract, eyes, and skin increase in the case of the exposure to the tear gases. So, no, tear gas is not harmless, and it is for these reasons why it has been deemed a chemical weapon.

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