Exposure to tear gas can cause a number of health problems. In addition to being composed of highly toxic compounds, concerns have been raised about the release of carcinogenic dioxins. Journalists covering the protests have reported breathing problems and skin allergies. Local residents may be next.
Given the serious health consequences of the use of tear gas, the police should stop using it, regardless of severity of the riots.
Moreover, the use of tear gas has been ineffective. Since the protests began, police have fired more than 12,000 tear gas canisters, but this has not really deterred protesters. The protests have not only continued, they have gone on late into the night and extended to weekdays, with weapons such as petrol bombs and arrows being used.
Given that tear gas has failed stop the riots, continuing to use it is just a waste of public money and damages Hong Kong’s environment. Worse still, the use of tear gas enhances public resentment, which intensifies police-civilian conflict and triggers more riots.
In addition to tear gas, the police should stop using water cannons and firing live rounds. Protesters should exercise restraint and cease using violence, and the government should respect this de-escalation.
Although Hong Kong has been covered by a layer of gas and the future is hard to foresee, if we all cooperate, our society can return to its original prosperity.
Leo Yick, Tsuen Wan
Why be coy about tear gas ingredients?
I am writing in response to “Hundreds join Hong Kong rally against use of tear gas, as protester group claims some of those exposed to smoke suffer rashes, diarrhoea or have coughed up blood” (December 6). If the government insists that tear gas is not toxic, it should disclose the ingredients of the tear gas used in Hong Kong so Hongkongers can rest easy. If not, mistrust of the government will continue to grow.
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