Hong Kong’s clouds of tear gasoline spark well being panic


HONG KONG (Information) – Hong Kong residents have turn out to be distracted this week by fears of dioxin poisoning, as fear grows in regards to the results of about 10,000 rounds of tear gasoline fired throughout the monetary hub over greater than 5 months of anti-government protests.

FILE PHOTO: Anti-extradition invoice demonstrators react as riot police hearth tear gasoline after a march to name for democratic reforms, in Hong Kong, China July 21, 2019. Information/Tyrone Siu

Many individuals are steering away from recent fruit and greens and warning household and buddies to attend every week earlier than consuming something that may have been uncovered to the gasoline that has shrouded varied neighborhoods at occasions over the months.

In accordance with some recommendation that has unfold on-line, girls ought to keep away from turning into pregnant for 2 years if they’ve been affected by the agent.

Town authorities has stated it has discovered no proof of dioxin poisoning from tear gasoline, however that appears unlikely to allay the fears, particularly, some critics say, as authorities haven’t absolutely defined what chemical substances are in tear gasoline.

“Unfold this message, keep away from consuming toxic fruits, dioxin is extraordinarily poisonous, peeling off the fruit pores and skin received’t take away the toxin,” one on-line message stated this week.

Most fruit in Hong Kong is sourced from a wholesale market within the working-class district of Yau Mai Tei on the Kowloon peninsula, a protest scorching spot the place police fired volley after volley of tear gasoline on Sunday and Monday.

Yau Mai Tei can be a stone’s throw from Polytechnic College, the scene of among the most intense clashes between protesters and police final weekend.

On Monday, sufferers on the close by Queen Elizabeth Hospital had been suggested to remain indoors and others to avoid its out-patient clinics.

Fruit distributors on the Yau Ma Tei market stated enterprise had dropped as much as 80% this week.

Some have shut up store or closed early as clients keep away, however all of them shrugged off worries about their fruit.

“The entire fruit that arrives right here is boxed, and the fruit offloading hub is six blocks away from Nathan Highway. Tear gasoline can’t journey this far,” stated a vendor surnamed Li, including that recent fruit arrives each day.

“I received’t blame the folks, they don’t perceive the method. But it surely’s arduous to say how lengthy the impression will final, I can’t assist it if folks consider the rumors.”


On-line messages and boards additionally targeted on the results of tear gasoline on pregnant girls. Some residents say tear gasoline releases dioxin and cyanide in extraordinarily excessive temperatures, which might result in miscarriage or toddler deformities.

Medical doctors say they’ve been inundated with enquiries.

“One affected person requested me whether or not her child could be deformed as a result of she inhaled tear gasoline final week,” stated obstetrician Kun Ka-yan.

Kun stated CS gasoline, the primary element of tear gasoline, doesn’t immediately end in miscarriage or child deformities, whereas dioxin and cyanide solely have an effect on pregnant girls if they’re uncovered to a big dose, or if the brokers contaminate the meals chain.

“The issue is the federal government has not actively defined the parts of tear gasoline and their impression on well being,” he stated.

“Individuals acquired frightened after the web rumors this week.”

Secretary for Meals and Well being Sophia Chan has tried to ease the issues.

“The Division of Well being and Hong Kong Poison Info Centre of Hospital Authority have reviewed related medical literature and scientific proof however have discovered no literature or scientific proof on dioxin poisoning instances triggered by means of tear gasoline,” she stated.

Chan added, nonetheless, it was higher to be protected than sorry.

“For the sake of prudence, meals suspected to be contaminated or exhibiting abnormality shouldn’t be consumed,” she stated.

Extra reporting by Felix Tam; Enhancing by Anne Marie Roantree and Robert Birsel