HomeWashington Letter2020 ▶ ATS Calls for Moratorium on Tear Gas Use
ATS Calls for Moratorium on Tear Gas Use

This week, ATS issued a statement calling for a moratorium on tear gas use. “The use of chemical crowd control agents is outlawed in the time of war. They cause significant short- and long-term respiratory health injury and likely propagate the spread of viral illnesses, including COVID-19,” said ATS President Juan C. Celedón, MD, DrPH, ATSF.

“Recent research calls into question the assumed safety of tear gas such as 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS), and the highly concentrated pepper oil used in exploding shells and grenades,” said Sven-Eric Jordt, PhD, a leading researcher in tear gas and related lung injury.  Those studies have identified chronic bronchitis, compromised lung function, and acute lung injury (in military recruits) as consequences of tear gas exposure.

Much of what we currently know about the health effects of exposure to tear gas and other chemical agents is based on military research conducted in the 50s, 60s, and 70s using young healthy male research participants.  These studies do not address the potential health effects for vulnerable populations who are exposed, including children, older adults, and people with underlying health conditions. 

Last Reviewed: June 2020