Cleaning tear gas is a dangerous and important task. Always hire a professional tear gas remediation company.
Tear gas, also called a riot control agent, is used by law enforcement officials and military personnel in order to quickly disperse a crowd. The term refers to a variety of toxic aerosols including pepper spray and mace. These compounds are highly poisonous and cause severe negative effects when they come in contact with the skin, eyes, and nose or when they are inhaled. It is extremely important that thorough and professional cleanup is performed on any space that has been exposed to tear gas.
How Tear Gas Works
There are many forms of tear gas, but they usually contain chloroacetophenone (CN) and chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile (CS). They are contained in canisters that are deployed using a specialized gun. Once they have been fired, the canisters release a fog of these chemicals in aerosol form and it disperses throughout the area.
These compounds cause a temporary burning sensation in eyes, mouth, throat, lungs and skin. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the effects of tear gas should last only 15-30 minutes after a person removed all residue from his or her clothes and body.
Tear Gas Exposure
Tear gas exposure happens when a person comes into contact with either the liquid droplets or powder particles of any riot control agent. Tear gas can cause a reaction whether it is on the skin or if it is inhaled. The effects of tear gas exposure vary and depend on if the tear gas was released in an enclosed space, how close to the canister someone was and how long they were exposed. In some cases, multiple canisters of tear gas may be released in a confined space.
The CDC reports that tear gas exposure commonly causes burning eyes, blurred vision, runny nose, burning sensation in the mouth and throat, difficulty swallowing, feeling of choking, wheezing, shortness of breath, skin rashes, burns, and vomiting or nausea. Longer exposure to large amounts of tear gas in enclosed settings can cause more serious health problems including blindness and glaucoma, possible respiratory failure, and death. There is no antidote for tear-gas poisoning.
Since tear gas is in the form of droplets or powder particles, these harmful chemicals can settle on the surfaces where the gas was used. It is important to thoroughly clean all surfaces in order to ensure a safe space for those who live or work nearby.
Tear Gas Remediation Process
Cleaning up after tear gas has been deployed is a difficult process. All residue from the area must be removed in order for the space to be used safely. Floors, walls, furniture, and any other items in the space must each be carefully cleaned. It is important to hire a professional company that is experienced with tear gas remediation. They will follow strict steps in order to thoroughly clean the area while keeping themselves and others safe.
Generally, tear gas remediation specialists follow these steps:
The first step a tear gas remediation company will take is to send in an experienced technician to assess the space. They will be able to locate the areas in which the canisters were deployed and how much of the space is contaminated. These technicians will use personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to maintain their own safety.
The information gathered will help plan the steps that need to be taken for the effective removal of all tear gas particles. It will also help the technician to put together a cost and time estimate. Areas that are enclosed spaces have had multiple canisters of tear gas released in them or contain a lot of sensitive equipment that may take longer to clean.
Once the area has been assessed, technicians will then very quickly contain the area in order to avoid others from entering the space. HVAC systems are often turned off so the tear gas particles do not get pushed into other parts of the building. Specialized barriers are used to stop tear gas particles from moving into other areas of the building.
Some items like furniture can be moved to an outdoor space and cleaned thoroughly. If items are safe in water, they can be soaked in order to remove the tear gas residue. Items with hard surfaces will be wiped down using a special cleaning agent. Every item and surface in the affected space will need to be cleaned thoroughly.
In some cases, items may need to be replaced completely. A professional and experienced tear gas remediation technician will be able to properly assess the state of the items affected.
Clean the Area
Once the majority of items in the area have been removed, the floors, walls, and ceiling can be thoroughly cleaned. Professional tear gas remediation companies use special solutions that are formulated specifically for removing tear gas residue. Highly saturated carpet and other soft surfaces may need to be replaced.
In some cases, the HVAC systems will also need to be cleaned. It is best to work with a tear gas remediation team that is also well-versed in HVAC systems in order to ensure that the ventilation system is included in the tear gas remediation plan.
Repeat if Necessary
For areas that have had multiple canisters of tear gas released in them, it may be necessary for deep cleaning to be repeated until all residue has been removed. The timeframe for this process depends on the amount of tear gas used in the space.
Always Hire a Professional
Tear gas is a highly toxic chemical weapon. It is incredibly important to hire a professionally trained tear gas remediation company to properly clean the area. Nobody should attempt to clean up tear gas residue themselves, especially without the proper PPE and cleaning solutions.
The best tear gas remediation companies are experienced in many different types of environmental cleanup. They should be able to assess the situation and offer an estimate for their services before the work begins. The number one goal of tear gas remediation is to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Contact Alliance Environmental’s Biohazard and Trauma Cleanup division if requiring the service.