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Reporters hit by tear gas complain of health woes

2019-08-09 HKT 14:43
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  • Reporters hit by tear gas complain of health woes
A poll carried out by a doctor has found that reporters who have been on the front line covering recent protests have reported stomach and skin problems due to the effects of tear gas.

Some 170 reporters filled in online questionnaires for the study led by district councillor and doctor Kwong Po-yin with the help of medical students and human rights activists.

Kwong said the actual situation for civilians and protesters who took in the toxic gas may be even worse than that for reporters.

"The most important thing is to avoid exposure to the tear gas. But when people are trying to put out tear gas, when the canisters are still hot and emitting smoke, the exposure would be more serious," she said.

Kwong said the study has its limitations as the journalists were only filling in a form online and the symptoms weren’t checked by doctors.

Rights activist Icarus Wong, who also attended the media briefing, said tear gas was banned as a chemical weapon years back due to the indiscriminate nature of its effects, being as the gas just flows with the air.

There's no international ban on tear gas as a police tool to disperse crowds, but Wong said the force should stop its “abusive” use of the gas.

Police have fired tear gas repeatedly since anti-extradition bill protests started in June. As the violence escalated, the use of tear gas has also climbed.

On Tuesday, a police spokesman said officers had fired 800 tear gas rounds on Monday alone during widespread clashes that followed a general strike.

As many as 1,000 rounds were used throughout the whole of the last two months, the officials said.