Tear Gas Is More Dangerous Than Police Let On — Especially During the Pandemic

June 8, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Health and Wellness

Last modified June 9, 2020

ProPublica investigates the use of tear gas and the long-term damage it can cause, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. There have been numerous instances in recent days in which police have launched tear gas — a toxic substance that can cause lung damage — into crowds. However, tear gas is not safe, according to a number of experts. It has been found to cause long-term health consequences and can hurt those who aren’t the intended targets, including people inside their homes.

This would be enough of a problem in normal times, but now, experts say, the widespread, sometimes indiscriminate use of tear gas on 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.

“As an immunologist, it scares me,” said Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergy and immunology doctor at NYU Langone Health. “We just got through a brutal two months, and I’m really scared this will bring a second wave [of COVID-19] sooner.”

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