Tear gas, cyanide in the gas...

A doctor of biology used a Swiss device to assess the toxicity of tear gas used by the law enforcement to disperse crowds during demonstrations.

Tear gas, cyanide in the gas...

REPRESSION A doctor of biology used a Swiss device to assess the toxicity of tear gas used by the law enforcement to disperse crowds during demonstrations.

The scientist from Nice wishes to alert public opinion to its effects. The demonstrations of the "vests yellow" took place every Saturday through thick clouds of smoke. Those caused by force tear gas canisters of the order and by the barricades of flames erected in the streets of the Hexagon. In March 2019 tens of ways so many report on social networks headache recurring, dizziness, dizziness, dizziness cramps and nausea. Their point common: having been sprayed more or less directly from gas Tear gas. Internet users then suspect the police to use tear gas. that contain cyanide. And that's all it takes that rumors are flying.

In Nice, during the umpteenth act, Alexander Samuel witnessed "the brutality with which officers maintain the order" and decides to film the altercations. This gesture will lead him in custody. Contact at his exit by a collective allegedly in connection with the UN to relay the violence observed in France, the doctor of molecular biology agrees to testify and use of his title to sign his report. Its status calls for this group, called SOS which transmits to him in April the test result of a protester thiocyanate-containing high serum levels. These are produced by the body in case of exposure to cyanide.

Taking blood on the spot

Alexander Samuel, also Project Manager for the Centre Education Liaison Officer and of the Nice news media (Clemi), then decides to debunk this fake news. "I thought I'd find quickly from the literature composition scientist tear gas bombs used and their effects on citizens, but to my astonishment I have not been able to get them prove him wrong, he says. In parallel, I was receiving dozens of test results from from different cities in France. But their holders were laboratory renderings a few days after the exhibition gas, but some of it has been eliminated... through the urinary tract. To be precise, a blood test must be realized quickly." For in to get to the bottom of it, the scientist decides to conduct its own research on the subject and on the field.

With a few clicks, Alexander Samuel discovers a device company-developed medical Switzerland, CyanoGuard, which is used to evaluate the cyanide level contained in a volume water, blood or urine. It is buys a dozen. "Our kits are used by companies members of the mining industry, members of the industry agri-food and even the FBI," says Benedikt Kirchgaessler, the Director General of this company.

Developed in partnership with At the University of Zurich, the Cyanokit is easy to use. "If some cyanide is present in a sample, our test will change of color, details the person in charge. Our results are semi-quantitative, which means that a positive result indicates a sample concentration equal to or greater than the value defined on the comparison table ...colors."

Accompanied by three doctors and a team in charge of their security, Alexander Samuel is rendered on 20 April and 1 May in the streets of Paris to carry out blood tests on voluntary demonstrators. Realized on the spot, right on the sidewalk, without gloves and close to the smoke and restlessness, these practices are challenged in the French press by doctors and activist collectives. "Our kit is very reliable, because its result is not altered by elements external", says Benedikt Kirchgaessler.

But the presence of cyanide in the bloodstream may be due to inhalation fire smoke or or cigarettes, or food. This substance is present in cassava, the bitter almonds and pits apricot. To compare the evolution concentration levels, the Niçois refines the method employee and in July blood tests on nine demonstrators before, during and after the inhalation of tear gas.

His conclusion: the level of cyanide in the blood after exposure to CS gas reaches levels above the threshold of dangerousness of 0.5 mg/l of blood when it is considered to be lethal from 1 mg/l. One result alarming for Alexander Samuel, but that leaves one skeptical professionals when it comes to to his gait. "It is urgent that Toxicologists are interested in this issue. I want to launch the alert," he confided to Le Temps. without being able to transmit the detailed results of his study. He hastened to contact the chemists interviewed by French media for their ask their opinion. One of them is intrigued and agrees to collaborate with him. This is André Picot, a chemist specializing in toxicology, honorary director at the CNRS and president of the association Toxicology-Chemistry.

Unknown symptoms

Together, they peel through the literature scientist, analyze the results obtained and are embarking on the drafting of a report, published in July 2020, entitled "The use of gas CS tear gas, its effects toxic to a greater or lesser extent term". In the first part, they're rewinding history. of this chemical weapon that carries the initials of its inventors, the American chemists Ben Corson and Roger Stoughton. Developed in 1928, the SC is reputed less toxic than his brother, the CN, while being more irritating. It is therefore considered more efficient by French law enforcement, who decide to generalize its use since 1980 - in contrast to the of the United States, by example, which always favour CN.

The authors then describe irritating and toxic effects caused by its inhalation or its absorption through the skin. For this do, they rely on a series of international studies pipelines mainly on animals. "There's a blur unbelievable in terms of its effects on humans, including when exposure to this gas is recurrent as in the case of the "vest" demonstrations yellow", regrets Alexander Samuel. We are forerunners and I'm sorry about that, being given its important use." So, his team identified symptoms caused by the CS gas. Among them, difficulty breathing, burning sensations, nausea, loss of memory, fainting spells, conjunctivitis or cataracts, but also possible intoxication with cyanide.

Indeed, both groups CNs present on the molecule 2-chlorobenzylidene malonitrile (CS) are likely, if the gas is inhaled, to be metabolized into hydrocyanic acid, whose toxicity is well documented. However, the quantity present in the body varies according to the sensitivity of individuals and their state of health. Cyanide blocks cellular respiration and causes asphyxiation. It has effects on the brain, heart and retina.

Health Risks

Our organization is capable of to eliminate cyanide through the rhodanese, an enzyme present in the saliva and liver, it's that which creates the eliminated thiocyanate gradually through the urine. "What are the repercussions about our health? What are the Risks? Alexander wonders. Samuel. Getting these answers is a public health issue for demonstrators, citizens present in the vicinity, but also the agents of the forces of order. We are all exposed to this gas."

Time submitted this report to Vincent Varlet, head of the Swiss Human Institute of Forensic Taphonomy (Shift) at the Centre universitaire romand de médecine legal. "From a point of view scientific, this document contains shortcuts approximations and a preface political, which does not make it admissible, he notes. It should have been increase the concentration of CS in the clouds

during the demonstrations and know the parameters exposure of people. Were they wearing masks? Did they remain in Apnea?"

On the other hand, the bibliographical work and history is for his well-endowed share. "It is true we've known for a long time that SC can be a source of cyanide in exposed organisms, but the concentrations achieved and the toxic effects are very ...not well known." On this point, he agrees with the authors' conclusion: "The study of the toxicity of SC deserves to be more scientifically ...investigated." A complicated scientific process, because exposing volunteers to toxic gas is unethical. In this sense, the employed by Alexander Samuel on the outskirts of events "is the only alternative to the moment".

"Need for transparency."

Another essential point to highlight for authors of this report is the revision of the use of CS gas in its together. "We need transparency, to know the level of concentration in grenades sent, the PhD in biology. Also, it would be good to ask in under what circumstances should this gas be used, if there are no others non-toxic methods that could be equally effective and whether a limit should not be fixed to avoid high exposure, as a result of sending of about 30 pucks."

The Prohibition Convention chemical weapons, entry into in force in 1997 and ratified by 193 country, prohibits the use of gas tear gas in times of war, but allows it to maintain internal order. Thus the SC does not dissipates not only in the French streets, it is also present in England, Turkey, Israel, India, South Africa, or still in Switzerland.

"There's an incredible fuzziness in what concerns the effects of tear gas. CS on humans, including when exposure to this gas is recurring as in the "yellow vest" manifestations – quote ALEXANDER S.

Read the orginial article here: https://www.letemps.ch/suisse/lacrymogene-cyanure-gaz

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