Toxic tear gas causing health problems for journalists

Local | 9 Aug 2019 3:44 pm

A poll by a doctor has found that reporters who have been on the front lines covering recent protests have complained of stomach and skin problems due to the effects of police tear gas, RTHK reports.
Some 170 reporters filled in online questionnaires for the study led by district councilor and doctor Kwong Po-yin with the help of medical students and human rights activists.
Kwong said the actual situation for civilians and protesters who took in the toxic gas may be even worse than that for news reporters.
"The most important thing is to avoid exposure to the tear gas. But when people are trying to put out tear gas, when the canisters are still hot and emitting smoke, the exposure would be more serious," she said. 
Kwong said the study has its limitations as the journalists were only filling in a form online and the symptoms were not checked by doctors.
Rights activist Icarus Wong, who also attended the media briefing, said tear gas was banned as a chemical weapon years back due to the indiscriminate nature of its effects. 
There is no international ban on tear gas as a police tool to disperse crowds, but Wong said police in Hong Kong  should stop the “abusive” use of the gas.
Police have fired tear gas repeatedly since anti-extradition bill protests started in June. As the violence escalated, the use of tear gas has also climbed.
The police said on Tuesday, 800 tear gas rounds had been fired on Monday alone during widespread clashes that followed a general strike.
Also, 1,000 rounds of tear gas were fired throughout the whole of the last two months, police revealed.

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