What does tear gas do to humans?


If you have been up with the news, you will realize there have been nonstop tear gas usage by the police in Hong Kong. It has been months since the Hong Kong government tried to introduce the extradition law, which leads to months of protests. The Hong Kong Police has been utilising tear gas to control the crowd.

So, what‘s inside a tear gas pallet and what does tear gas do to humans?

The most common ingredient in tear gas is the chemical agent 2- chlorobenzaldene malononitrile (CS).

Tear gas is actually an aerosol. At room temperature, CS is a solid state. CS is mixed with liquid or gas dispersal agents when used as a weapon. It is designed to act on pain-sensing nerves when in contact with humans.

Prototypes of the tear gas were first used in World War I, both by France and Germany. Not until 1928, American chemists Ben Corson and Roger Stoughton developed the active component of CS gas.

What are its effects?

Tear gas works by irritating the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs.

Typically, the onset of effects take around 30 seconds, and include a burning, watery sensation in the eyes, difficulty breathing, chest pain, excessive saliva and skin irritation. You can also expereince sympotms of vomiting and diarrhoea if exposed to a large dose of tear gas.

Normally one would run away from the location and get some fresh air. These effects should subside after 10 minutes.

Why are people pouring milk on their faces?

People have been pictured pouring milk or milky substances on their faces after suffering from the effects of tear gas, which is just one of the home-made remedies people have claimed will help with symptoms.

It is thought that milk soothes the pain induced by lachrymatory agents, or tear gas. In an online flier circulated by people affiliated with the Occupy movement in 2011, antacids such as Maalox dissolved in water was advised as a method of relief from the effects of tear gas, sprayed onto people’s eyes and mouths, and to be swallowed.


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