The heavy reliance on tear gas, pepper spray, and other "safe" crowd control measures from Oakland to Cairo is raising new concerns about just how much damage police and armies are doing to unarmed citizens. Weapons like these are intended to protect crowds from more dangerous shows of force like guns and batons, but even when used correctly (which is not always the case) they may be doing permanent damage to the people they're used on.
Doctors in Egypt are saying that the tear gas used in Tahrir Square in recent days is particularly toxic and may have actually caused the deaths of some protesters. A man working at field clinic in the square says, "About 70 per cent of the injuries are fainting. People are coming in with asthma, convulsions sometimes - this wasn't often before." Some of the 30+ people killed in the last week are believed to have died from asphyxiation.
Protesters at UC-Davis who were shot in the faces with pepper spray last weekend complained of pain and irritation in their breathing passages even days after their arrests, and a pregnant woman sprayed at Occupy Seattle says she suffered a miscarriage as a result. (That claim hasn't been verified, and The Stranger says her story is "increasingly dubious.")