Health Experts Warn Tear Gas at Protests Could Spread COVID-19

Rebekah Sager
June 05, 2020 - 5:38 am

An infectious disease specialist from UC San Francisco is urging law enforcement not to spray tear gas on protesters, as it could spread COVID-19. 

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases told the Los Angeles Times that as tear gas is sprayed it's only natural for protesters to remove masks to rub their eyes, noses, and mouths. Additionally, the gas is an irritant to the lining of the lungs, and inside the nose and mouth, making people more susceptible to infection. 

“Our approach was to meet people where they were,” Chin-Hong told the LA Times. “We wanted to support people’s voices in this national time of sadness and tragedy. ... We wanted to make the people as safe as possible when they went out, arming them with the science behind it, and then maybe advocating for law enforcement to be a little bit more humane.”

A group of 1,000 public health experts and others from the University of Washington have signed a petition demanding that law enforcement discontinue using tear gas and other forms of respiratory irritants in the service of public health.