Tear gas impact explained

November 21, 2019

Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan today said she understands the public’s concern about the impact of tear gas.


In a statement, Prof Chan said the Food & Health Bureau will continue to exchange views with relevant experts and provide up-to-date information and advice to the public from the public health perspective.


“I fully understand the public’s concern on the impact of tear gas on health and food safety. In this connection, the bureau has earlier sought advice from relevant experts.


“Subsequently, the Centre for Health Protection under the Department of Health and the Centre for Food Safety under the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department have respectively provided health information on tear gas and advice on contaminants and food safety.”


On the health effects of tear gas, post-exposure symptoms may include stinging and burning sensation to eyes and other mucous membranes, tearing, salivation, running nose, tight chest, headache, nausea, burning sensation of skin and erythema of skin, the statement said.


These symptoms will disappear within a short time after exposure to tear gas, it said.


According to the Hospital Authority, amongst those who were exposed to tear gas and had attended its accident and emergency departments, there was no serious health impact reported.


Most of them could be immediately discharged after receiving treatment and rinsing.


The Centre for Food Safety also advised the food trade to properly store food in places such as clean and covered food-grade containers to reduce the risk of food contamination.


Prof Chan said: “I know the public would like to learn more about the situation at the Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market.


“The Centre for Food Safety staff have visited the market to provide food safety information to traders and advised them to take appropriate preventive measures.


“Insofar as the general public is concerned, generally speaking, contaminants on the surface of some kinds of food, such as fruits or vegetables, can be reduced by washing with running water.


“For the sake of prudence, food suspected to be contaminated or showing abnormality should not be consumed.”

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