Tear gas, which is officially known as a lachrymator agent, is a chemical weapon that causes severe eye pain and breathing, skin irritation, bleeding, and even blindness. This gas will stimulate the lacrimal gland nerves to produce tears. Tear gas is usually used to control riots. Its use in warfare is prohibited by various international agreements.
The most commonly used tear gas contains 2- chlorobenzaldene malononitrile (CS) chemicals. Apart from its name, tear gas is not a gas, but an aerosol. The earliest forms of tear gas were first used in World War I, both by France and Germany.
Tear gas can refer to one of many types of chemical compounds. There are four main types of tear gas, Chlorobenzylidine malononitrile (CS), Chloroacetophenone (CN), Dibenzoxazepine (CR), and Capsicum Oleoresin (OC). The most commonly used by law enforcement for crowd control is CS. CN is sold as a protector of people.
OC is commonly referred to as pepper spray. Used as a riot control agent, tear gas is intended to paralyze a person’s vision, respiratory system, and irritate the skin. Causes irritation, coughing, and irritation of the mucous membranes, makes and attacks harmless.
Tear gas in the form of fine powder then combined with aerosols to make grenades. When blown up, these grenades create a cloud of chemistry which then affects the area where they are released. When it explodes, the cloud affects one’s eyes, nose, and respiratory system. After airing, it becomes airborne and seeps into all nearby materials: sofas, carpets, drywall, ventilation, air filters, floors, clothing – nothing is safe from the effects of residual tear gas.
The effect of tear gas can last a month after initial exposure. When used tear gas is fired into the house, it will explode into a gas cloud. The gas can penetrate dry walls, or other surfaces at home. If this happens, the drywall and insulation behind it is infected. If it is not immediately treated, tear gas on the wall will settle. This can cause long-term health hazards for residents of the space.
The effect of tear gas can last as short as 30 minutes or more than a few hours depending on the amount of initial exposure. The purpose of tear gas is to immobilize someone. Someone who is exposed will have difficulty breathing, itchy eyes, impaired vision, runny nose, saliva and even a rash or burn on the skin. If not treated immediately can cause further health problems and in rare cases can cause death.
Being exposed to tear gas has health consequences if not treated quickly. Here are a few things to do if you have tear gas:
- After being exposed, rinse the eyes with cold water or clean salt. Allowing water or salt to flow in the open eye will remove tear gas – do not rub your eyes because this will only increase irritation.
- Washing your arms, legs, and hair with detergent safely the body in cold water, rinsing and repeating should be enough to remove all the residue left on someone’s body – do not rub it, this can reactivate tear gas.
- If after repeated hives or rashes, get immediate medical attention – the residual effect will not disappear on its own.
Be sure to wash clothes because tear gas will penetrate too.