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Updated 23 February 2016

Tear gas: what it does to you and how to deal with it

Tear gas is regarded as non-lethal, but causes burning and tearing of the eyes and a burning in the nose, mouth and throat, which leads to coughing, nasal discharge, disorientation, and problems breathing.

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Human-rights organisation Amnesty International has listed tear gas as a tool of torture, and Turkey's medical association president Ahmet Ozdemir Aktan has condemned it.

Here is more about and how to deal with exposure to this controversial crowd control measure that was once used as a weapon of war:

Ways to avoid/lessen the pain of inhaling tear gas:

• Keep a bandanna or any other piece of material that you can use to cover your mouth, soaked in cider vinegar or lemon if you think that the gas might be released in area that you are in.

• Rinse your eyes and mouth out with milk or cold water.

• Take a cold shower (a hot shower will open your pores and aid in absorption of the chemical compound worsening the affects.)

• Some people who experience shortness of breath experience symptoms of a panic attack as a result. In such cases rush that person to a hospital as soon as possible.

• As the video below – from the discovery channel – mentions: methods to deal with exposure have limited success so the best solution is to leave the area immediately. 

Read: The symptoms of breathlessness

How tear gas and the chemicals it contains take a toll on your body:

Read: Alert: Rubber bullets can harm students

More about the chemical compounds, what they do to you and the dangers of them being inhaled and absorbed into your skin: 

Many experts agree on the possible effects of tear gas use on humans listed above by the discovery channel video including coughing fits months later and chemical burns to exposed skin. 

Experts like Neil Gibson, an analyst with IHS Jane's, a British intelligence and security publication, spoke to BBC about the different types of tear gas with different compounds that have their own toxicological effects and levels. 

"The effects differ mostly in high dosage, but in lower concentrations they are similar,” he told the BBC. Gibson then went on to say that deaths from tear gas are rare but not impossible.

Read more:

Radon is a silent killer. Could it be in your home?

Common household detergents are now linked to genital defects in babies

UN cites man-made chemicals in health scourges

 
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