Monday, 28 November 2011

Tear gas used in Egypt banned for military use, causes liver, heart damage, miscarriages - Bikya Masr

Tear gas used in Egypt banned for military use, causes liver, heart damage, miscarriages

| 21 November 2011 | 8 Comments

One of the tear gas canisters being used in Cairo.

CAIRO: The tear gas being employed by the Egyptian military and police in the past 48 hours, beyond being expired for at least five years, according to canisters obtained by, cause severe pulmonary damage, as well as causing damage to the heart and liver. It is also reported to increase the risk of miscarriages, according to international studies of the substance, known as CR gas.

A lethal does can be inhaled within minutes if in a poorly ventilated area.

According to the United States Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, CR emits “very toxic fumes” when heated to decomposition, and at specified concentrations CR gas is an immediate danger to life and health. The report also stated that those exposed to CR gas should “seek medical attention immediately.”

In large doses, human tissues have also revealed that cyanide levels in the body are discovered. It can also “melt” one’s skin if sweat on the body comes into contact with the substance.

Egyptian demonstrators have been exposed at high levels over the past two days, with many calling the use of the gas a “crime against humanity” as it has resulted in severe injuries due to its indiscriminate usage by both police and military forces.

Under the Paris Convention on Chemical Warfare of 1993, CR Gas was listed as a restricted substance and under the 1972  Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) it had been banned for military use, but it has not stopped governments across the world from deploying the gas on civilians. The United States, Sri Lanka, Israel and others including Egypt, have continued to use the gas on its people.

At a field hospital along Mohamed Mahmoud street on Sunday evening, the military slammed the area with the substance, causing scores of Egyptians to run in panic as clouds of tear gas billowed forth. A few individuals succumbed to the extraordinary amount of gas, coughing and vomiting.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” said one doctor to “This is causing people to pass out, vomit and cough blood. It isn’t safe.”

The company producing the gas being used in Egypt, Combined Tactical Systems of Jamestown, Pennsylvania in the United States, refused to respond to requests for information pertaining to expired canisters and its effects on people. The company claims that they do not produce CR Gas, only CS Gas, which is also banned internationally. CS Gas is equally as destructive to the body. There are at least three types of gas being used in Tahrir by security forces. 

But on the ground in Tahrir and the surrounding streets, it is clear that the tear gas is having massive effects on demonstrators.

“It is wrong, horrific and scary to think the military has purchased so many they just shoot them like they have an endless supply from the US,” said one demonstrator, using a tissue to wipe his blood-shot eyes.

** CORRECTION: We first reported that this gas was banned under the Paris convention. This was incorrect, it is banned for military use under a previous convention, but is not banned for use as a riot control agent, according to a statement from the Convention on Chemical Weapons sent directly to