PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A Portland State University graduate student released a study tracking the use of tear gas in Portland showing on what night of the protest it was used and how many times.
The map shows that most of the tear gas use has been in front of the federal courthouse and the justice center. It shows that tear gas was used more than 100 times from May 29 to July 15.
According to the study, there were nights that tear gas was used more than 20 times. The use of tear gas by police has been a hot topic in Portland with several lawsuits filed against local and federal officers for using CS gas.
Now, health officials are looking at the impact tear gas could have on people.
William Lambert, professor emeritus of epidemiology, environmental systems & human health at OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, says the tear gas irritates the mucus membranes and causes pain in the lungs and eyes. He says prolonged exposure can lead to health issues, including susceptibility to upper respiratory infections. He says the amount of tear gas shown on the map is worrisome, especially during a pandemic.
"An exposure that’s repeated and heavy multiple times in an evening or over multiple nights, would continually degrade the natural defenses of the respiratory tract to fight infection," Lambert said.
Lambert says he worries that this exposure to tear gas could lead to people being more susceptible to COVID-19. He adds that since tear gas travels through the air, this could also impact people who have no affiliation with the protests.
In June, Mayor Ted Wheeler ordered police not to use tear gas unless they felt their lives were in danger. Police have used gas multiple times since then after declaring several riots.
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