Two congressional committees requested information and security documents from tear gas manufacturers as part of an investigation into the health effects of chemical weapons used by dozens of police departments during months of racial justice uprisings in the United States.
Four Democrats – US Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, cori bush, Jamie Raskin and Raja Krishnamoorthi – sent letters to three to tear apartgas manufacturers and various federal agencies as part of an investigation under subcommittees of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
“The United States has agreed not to use tear gas in the war,” they wrote in a letter the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.
“However, tear gas is frequently used in this country by authorities as a ‘disorder control agent’,” they wrote. “Given this domestic use, we would expect an analysis showing that tear gas products are safe for use in humans, but we didn’t see that.”
“Tear gas” is grouped as disorder control agents that “temporarily render people unable to function, causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin.” according to a technical sheet of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lawmakers said that “evidence suggests that tear gas may be related to long-term adverse health impacts for those exposed” and that the safety of tear gas “appears to be largely left to manufacturers” rather than regulatory agencies. .
Lawmakers also have “unanswered questions” about whether tear gas – triggered by at least 100 law enforcement agencies across the US last year, according to an analysis by The New York Times – may exacerbate coronavirus symptoms or cause long-term lung damage in people who have been exposed to it.
They cited reports of The Associated Press who found that military personnel exposed to tear gas in basic training ran more than twice the risk of being diagnosed with acute respiratory illness after exposure to tear gas.
Lawmakers also pointed to report at ProPublica who found that “the widespread, sometimes indiscriminate use of tear gas by American civilians in the midst of a respiratory pandemic threatens to worsen the coronavirus, along with racial disparities in its spread and who dies from it.”
“These products have been routinely deployed to nonviolent protesters exercising their First Amendment rights,” lawmakers wrote. “People should not be concerned that if they attend a non-violent protest, are in the vicinity of a police action, or are medical professionals assisting injured individuals, they may be exposed to poison with unknown effects.”
The committees asked companies to send them relevant information by June 24th.
Inside an open letter signed by 1,288 doctors and public health professionals in 2020, they urged police departments to stop using tear gas “or other respiratory irritants, which could increase the risk of Covid-19 by making the respiratory tract more susceptible to infection, exacerbating existing inflammation and inducing cough. ”
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