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  • A man runs from gas and a police vehicle during a protest in Santiago, Chile, September 11, 2020.

    A man runs from gas and a police vehicle during a protest in Santiago, Chile, September 11, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 12 September 2020
Opinion

According to a recent study, long exposures to CS gas are a risk factor for the brain, liver, kidneys, eyes, and the gastrointestinal system.

The chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (CS) gas, which is a complement of the tear gas bombs used by the Chilean Police (Carabineros) to halt protests in the country, generates cyanide inside the human body, report shows.

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A study published in the French magazine L'Obs showed that in short terms, the gas CS causes irritation and discomfort, leaving demonstrators and bystanders with burning eyes, coughing, dizziness, and headaches."

But our research is focused on the long-term effects of this gas," France's Association of Toxicology-Chemistry president and one of the leaders of the research Andre Picot explained.

The human body can produce cyanide, which is a highly toxic and potentially deadly chemical compound, due to the long exposures to the gas, such as those experienced during the social outbreak in Chile.

According to the doctor in molecular biology and leader of the investigation Alexander Samuel, "the effects on the brain, liver, kidneys, eyes, and the gastrointestinal system may be irreversible."

Exposure to gas CS is as dangerous for protesters as it is for police officers, who are equally exposed to the toxic chemical during training and protest operations.

Chilean Carabineros use the chemical compound CS in water launchers, gas launchers, and in carbine and grenade cartridges.

The gas "is used to generate irritation or pain in people for a very limited period. If its effects are different, as this French study suggests, we will have to rethink its use," Carabineros' human rights professor Daniel Soto said.

This is the first time that intense, prolonged, and permanent exposure to the gas has been generated in the country. "This research should be taken into account immediately," Soto added.

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