Thursday, July 25, 2024

Harmful contents of teargas cannisters thrown at protesters

Whenever Kenyans hit the streets in protest, they’re often met with harsh police tactics, like lobbing teargas canisters into the crowds.

To many, tear gas is just a gas that makes protesters shed tears. The mystery remains as to how such a small canister can release irritating smoke that lingers for hours.

Medical experts explain that tear gas causes severe irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin. What is the content formulation of the teargas?

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As per Britannica, tear gases are synthetic organic halogen compounds that are not true gases under normal conditions. They can also be dispersed as liquids or solids in the air using sprays, fog generators, grenades and shells.

The most commonly used tear gases are Chloroacetophenone (CN) and Chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile (CS).

CN is found in the aerosol agent Mace. It is extensively used in riot control and primarily affects the eyes. The effects of lobbied teargas are often temporary and reversible, leaving no lasting harm to the body.


According to Science Direct, tear gases have been linked to lower respiratory injuries. However, they can have long-lasting effects after intense exposures, such as in enclosed spaces for example buildings.

Some of the short-term symptoms associated with people who have been exposed to teargas include:

  1. Eyes: Blurred vision, excessive tearing, redness and burning
  2. Nose: Running nose, burning, swelling
  3. Mouth: Burning, irritation, difficulty swallowing, drooling
  4. Lungs: Chest tightness, coughing, choking sensation, wheezing, shortness of breath
  5. Skin: Burns, rashes.
  6. Vomiting and Nausea.

Police beat up, arrest Kenyans protesting against Ruto taxes in Nairobi


Senior police officer loses both hands to teargas

On Tuesday, 18th June Chief Inspector David Maina was allegedly admitted to the Nairobi West Hospital where he is said to be undergoing surgery after losing his finger to a teargas canister.

The officer was managing the crowd of Kenyans protesting the finance bill when, in a widely circulated video, he accidentally detonated a tear gas canister that injured his hands.

The violent eruption caused his palms to detach from his wrist at the scene.

“As a result, his two hands were severely injured from the wrist losing both forearms,” read a police report in part.

Police Constable Mildred Amoit, who was nearby, sustained minor injuries to her chest during the incident involving the injured officer and the tear gas canister.

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