Tear Gas is used around the world from Brazil to Bahrain, from Thailand to the Occupied Territories of Palestine. Yet, as journalists file daily news stories of tear gas deployments, its health effects remain undetermined and its death toll ill-defined. The use of tear gas by police forces and its for-profit transnational trade continue to raise legal questions.
While researchers and campaign groups work hard to raise awareness of tear gases’ true effects, data is dispersed across nations, suppressed by governments, and spun by corporate manufacturers with a vested interest in keeping sales figures high. As NATO reported in 2006, much existing data “is unavailable due to proprietary or national security interests” and where data is available, much is of “very little relevant quality” to understanding human impact (RTO-TR-HFM-073).
The Connecting Tear Gas Research Project began through a collaboration between Dr. Anna Feigenbaum, author of the forthcoming book Tear Gas: the making of a pacifying poison (Verso 2015), and John Horne, a doctoral researcher on torture technologies and member of the group Bahrain Watch. Identifying the need to bring scattered research on tear gas together, Anna and John set out on this project.
The purpose of Connecting Tear Gas Research is to bring together existing knowledge around tear gases and the impacts less lethals have on people and their lived environments. This involves gathering and monitoring information on deployment practices, policies and the international trade in less lethal technologies. Working with international researchers, NGOs, journalists and tactical technologists, the project aims to contribute to public discussions and policy-making on the safety and social impacts of tear gas and policing technologies.