Two years after launching tear gas to disperse protesters, Hong Kong police recently insisted the chemical irritant is not harmful to human health and the environment.
In a meeting on June 21 with the Hong Kong Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), the force also said that frontline officials were trained to fire teargas in a manner that would leave an escape route for the crowd, such as keeping a safe distance from the target.
According to Hong Kong 01, the police said soil and water samples showed nothing was abnormal, therefore dismissing if teargas could as well be environmentally damaging.
On that condition, they said there was no need to set up an expert committee to examine the toxicological level of tear gas. The substance was said to be in line with international standards, but no details of its chemical composition were mentioned.
At least, the force added that they will consider using other low-lethal weapons in the future, given the narrow and dense environment in Hong Kong. Those mentioned include pepper water guns and pepper ball launchers.
Ironically, Chinese media Da Ji Yuan reported that on the same day, the Hong Kong High Court heard a trial relating to teargas.
Doctor Kenneth Leung Kam-chung was suing the police for firing teargas that started a fire in his flats.
According to a letter from the Fire Services Department that was referenced by the plaintiff, the fire was caused after the tear gas canister ignited flammable objects within the flats. He was seeking 6.72 million Hong Kong dollars, or 856,000 in U.S. dollars, in damages.
Contrary to what the Hong Kong police declared, in 2019, the Guardian reported sightings of dead birds in some districts where tear gas canisters were fired.
The Hong Kong Mothers group said that nearly 2,000 complaints relating to the potential side effects caused by teargas were filed by concerned parents. The symptoms include skin allergies and coughing. At least a parent told the Guardian that their child developed rashes.
South China Morning Post reported in November 2019 that a Stand News reporter wrote a lengthy complaint on Facebook that he was diagnosed with chloracne after exposure to tear gas.