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Riot control agent

From Academic Kids

Template:WMD/Chemical A riot control agent is a type of lachrymatory agent (or lacrimatory agent). These are chemical compounds, such as benzyl bromide, that causes the eyes to sting and water.

Any chemical which has this effect may be called lachrymatory, but "riot control agent" or "tear gas" implies a lachrymatory chemical chosen for its low toxicity which is judged to be non-lethal.

These chemicals are used to disperse a riot, as they can rapidly produce sensory irritation or disabling physical effects which disappear following termination of exposure. They can also be used for chemical warfare defence training.

Tear gas is a non-specific term for any chemical that is used to cause temporary incapacitation through irritation of eyes and/or respiratory system. Tear gas is used as a hand-held spray or in grenades. It is widely used by police forces to subdue people in arrest or riot situations.

Popular tear gases include the eye irritants CS, CN, CR, and the respiratory irritant OC pepper spray.

Tear gases is the common name for substances which, in low concentrations, cause pain in the eyes, flow of tears and difficulty in keeping the eyes open. Another side-effect of being exposed to Tear Gas is Vomiting. Tear gases are used mainly in military exercises and in riot control, etc., but have also been used as a method of warfare. Irritating gases have been used in war since ancient times but it was not until after the Second World War that a more systematic search for effective substances was started.

Among a long series of substances, three have become of greater importance than the others. They are effective and imply low risks when used. These substances are chloroacetophenone (codename CN), orto-chlorobenzylidene-malononitrile (codename CS) and dibenz (b,f)-1,4-oxazepine (codename CR). CN was formerly the most widely used tear gas. Today, CS has largely replaced CN and is probably the most widely used tear gas internationally.

At room temperature, these tear gases are white solid substances. They are stable when heated and have low vapor pressure. Consequently, they are generally dispersed as aerosols. All of them have low solubility in water but can be dissolved in several organic solvents. Hydrolysis of CN is very slow in water solution, also when alkali is added. CS is rapidly hydrolyzed in water solution (half-life at pH 7 is about 15 min. at room temperature) and extremely rapid when alkali is added (half-life at pH 9 is about 1 min.). CR is hydrolyzed only to a negligible extent in water solution.

CN and CR are, thus, difficult to decompose under practical conditions, whereas CS can easily be inactivated by means of a water solution. Skin is suitably decontaminated by thorough washing with soap and water. CS is then decomposed whereas CN and CR are only removed.

Decontamination of material after contamination with CS can be done with a 5-10 % soda solution or 2 % alkaline solution. If this type of decontamination cannot be accomplished (e.g., contaminated rooms and furniture), then the only other means is by intensive air exchange - preferably with hot air.

In contrast to human beings, domesticated animals generally have low sensitivity to tear gases. Dogs and horses can therefore be used by police for riot control even when tear gas is used.

The word "lachrymatory" comes from the Latin lacrima meaning "a tear". The use of riot control agents in warfare is prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

See also

External link

fr:Gaz lacrymogène he:גז מדמיע

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