What to Do if You’re Exposed to Tear Gas

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Physicians explain what to do — and what not to do — if you become exposed to tear gas

Photo: Getty Images As daily demonstrations against police brutality spread worldwide, police in the United States continue to respond with violence, using rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas on crowds of peaceful protesters. In Seattle, a police officer allegedly pepper sprayed a child in the face, prompting social media outcry and an investigation by the Seattle office of police accountability.

Wear eye protection if possible. Tear gas is an unpleasant and potentially harmful experience, so the best treatment is prevention, says Natasha Bhuyan, an internal medicine provider at OneMedical. “We tell people to wear face coverings, and if they have goggles or face shields, those are even more ideal.” Wearing a face mask does double duty here: you’re helping protect yourself and others from COVID-19, and you’re also protecting at least part of your face from chemicals used by police.

If you are exposed, get away from the source. The single biggest health risk posed by tear gas isn’t the gas itself, but the canisters they’re shot in, says Wittman. “It’s essentially a missile, like a bullet or shrapnel,” he says. “If it hits your eye, it can cause severe eye damage. It also can cause damage to the skin and fractures to the bones.”

Milk helps with pepper spray, but not tear gas. While milk might provide some cooling relief to irritation, it doesn’t do much to help people exposed to tear gas. “With pepper spray, milk helps break down those oils,” says Bhuyan. “Diluted baby shampoo is another option. Milk for tear gas isn’t doing a lot except potentially providing some comfort.”

As for the baking soda recipe popularized by the Hong Kong protests, Bhuyan urges caution. “Using three teaspoons of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water does work, and the reason it works is that it’s able to neutralize the tear gas chemical,” she says. “But when people are using baking soda, now they’re using an irritant, and anytime you’re using an irritant, it could potentially scratch the surface of your eyes.


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Come for a training in Paris for a training we have tear gaz every saturday ...

dimdemi96 Lol 😂

I understand that you can just pour water on it.

... let me demonstrate!

A visual aid from sister Amina.

The fact that such article is needed, or thinking it is needed, is a disgrace on itself.

Get a training in Paris we have tear gaz each saturday for almost two years ...

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