The Truth Behind the Tears

The Truth Behind the Tears

Once a tool of war, now a global policing strategy, over the past 100 years tear gas has grown into a transnational industry. Yet its health effects remain contested, legality questioned, and death toll ill-defined.

Connecting Tear Gas Research brings together existing knowledge around tear gas and the impacts less lethals have on people and their lived environments. Working with international researchers, NGOs, journalists and tactical technologists, we contribute to news reports, public debate and policy-making on the safety and social impacts of tear gas technologies. LEARN MORE

Human Impacts

west of jenin_children suffer tear gas inhalation_farse news nov 2013

Governments and manufacturers’ justify the use of tear gas and other less lethals by making claims to their safety. Yet medical associations around the world say more studies must be done. Canister strikes to the head, grenades launched into enclosed spaces and smoke inhalation continue to leave people dead, disfigured and with chronic health conditions.


Laws & Policies

fed labs blue book training c1960s

The 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the use of chemical weapons in war, while permitting the use of tear gases for “law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes.” This exception has led to many questions around how we define the difference between a ‘chemical agent’ and a ‘chemical weapon’.


Manufacture & Sales

CSI chemical munitions

From the United States to Korea, Brazil to Bahrain, tear gas is manufactured and sold on a global scale. Making up part of a vast security economy, this industry is predicted to continue to grow by 20% until 2020. Every year companies release new forms of ‘less lethal’ devices that go on display for international buyers at expo around the world.



protesters help tear gassed dog

When tear gas is deployed it seeps into the environment, contaminating food supplies and leaving chemical residues. Like humans, many animals suffer from the effects of tear gas. In addition, incendiary devices in tear gas canisters and grenades can cause fires, burning down flats, buildings and fields.


Mass Tear Gassings in 2013  

tear gas map screen shot
View Mass Tear Gassing as an interactive map. All recorded location data is derived from news reports via a google alert. Data captured is incomplete as many incidences go unreported or are documented but not caught in the google filter.