Oregon leaders ask EPA to investigate impacts of tear gas on the environment

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) — Several Oregon leaders are asking for the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the impacts of sustained tear gas used by federal agents on people, air, land and bodies of water.

In a letter from Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, they wrote in part:

“In addition to the direct health impacts on our constituents, we are also deeply concerned about the impact tear gas has had on Oregon’s environment. State and local environmental and health agencies are investigating its impacts, and it is also the duty of the Federal Government to provide information that will help further these studies and make information about the environmental impacts of tear gas usage readily available to the American public.”

They requested that the EPA provide answers to the following questions by August 31:

  1. Will the EPA support testing of soil, vegetation, air, groundwater and other bodies of water in the Downtown Portland area for exposure to tear gas?
  2. Does the EPA have studies that show immediate and long-term impact that tear gas has on trees and other natural spaces, such as parks? If so, can you provide that information?
  3. EPA publishes the Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for airborne chemicals to describe the human health effects from once-in-a-lifetime, or rare, exposure to airborne chemicals. Will the EPA use the AEGL study to investigate the impact of sustained use of tear gas on peaceful protesters by federal agents in Portland?
  4. How does the EPA plan to study environmental and human health impacts of exposure to tear gas on Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color in Oregon and nationwide?
  5. Can tear gas linger in air, soil and water after sustained use in a specific area? Can chemicals settle on surfaces and remain for extended periods of time?
  6. Please provide any additional information or study available that demonstrates how sustained use of tear gas can pollute air, land and water and its impact on humans and wildlife.
  7. To your knowledge, has the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of tear gas for human consumption or inhalation?

You can find the full letter here.