Teargas in Portland Protests Linked to Reports of Abnormal Menstruation 

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Thousands of activists rally outside the Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland, Oregon on the night of July 25, 2020. Photo by Greenpeace USA via Flickr

A new study reveals that nearly 900 people reported abnormal menstrual cycles, including intense cramping and increased bleeding, that began or persisted days after their initial exposure to the teargas and hundreds of others complained of other negative health impacts, including severe headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and mental health concerns after being exposed to teargas during protests in Portland, Ore., last summer, reports The Guardian.

The new research, based on an online survey of more than 2,200 people, challenges claims that the health consequences of being teargassed are minor and temporary, said Dr Britta Torgrimson-Ojerio, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente Northwest and the lead author of the study.

Participants in racial justice protests against police violence last summer in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Rochester and other cities told media outlets that their exposure to teargas had been followed by unexpected bleeding, unusually painful cramps, and other disruptions of their typical menstrual cycles.

One of the reasons the researchers decided to conduct a survey last summer is that little is known about the health effects of teargas when it is deployed on a civilian population that is made up of a wide diversity of people. The researchers also found a “dose response”: people who described more frequent and repeated exposure to tear gas also described more serious disruptions to their menstrual cycles.

While the current medical advice for dealing with the effects of teargas is simply to walk away, remove clothing affected by the chemicals, and take a shower, the survey responses suggest that physical and mental health effects of being teargassed may be much more lasting.

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