Oversight Subcommittees Launch Investigation on Tear Gas Product Safety

Jun 10, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (June 10, 2021)—Today, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Rep. Cori Bush sent letters to Safariland, Combined Systems Inc., and Pacem Defense LLC requesting documents and information regarding the safety of tear gas products manufactured by their companies. 

 

“These products have routinely been deployed on non-violent protestors exercising their First Amendment rights,” the Members wrote.  “People should not have to worry that if they attend a non-violent protest, are in the vicinity of law enforcement action, or are medical workers assisting injured individuals, they may be exposed to poison with unknown effects.”

 

Studies have shown significant adverse health outcomes for individuals exposed to tear gas.  The safety of tear gas products sold in the United States appears to be largely left to the discretion of manufacturers.  There are also concerning unanswered questions about whether tear gas has exacerbated coronavirus symptoms or caused long-term lung damage to people who encounter it. 

 

The Members asked the companies to provide the Subcommittees with information dating back to January 1, 2018, by June 24, 2021.

 

Additionally, the Members sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan seeking information on whether there is any existing federal oversight of the use of tear gas products on humans.  The letter included a request for a briefing on the regulation of tear gas.

 

“Tear gas is frequently used in this country by law enforcement as a ‘riot control agent.’  Given this domestic use, we would have expected an analysis demonstrating that tear gas products are safe to use on humans, but we have not seen this.  In fact, evidence suggests that tear gas may be connected to long-term adverse health impacts for those exposed.”

 

Click here to read the letter to Secretary Becerra, Attorney General Garland, and Administrator Regan.

 

Click here to read the letter to Safariland.

 

Click here to read the letter to Combined Systems, Inc.

 

Click here to read the letter to Pacem Defense LLC.

 

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117th Congress