The Surprising History and Science of Tear Gas

Technically a chemical weapon, tear gas is seeing heavy use in Turkish protests.

Protesters have been calling for an end to the leadership of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, citing what they call increasingly authoritarian measures, including restrictions on alcohol sales, separation of genders in schools, and other issues.

The Turkish Human Rights Foundation has reported that four people were killed in protests Tuesday and that nearly 5,000 people have been treated for injuries, including widespread exposure to tear gas.

Use of tear gas in warfare is banned by the international Geneva Convention, and its use on civilian populations remains controversial. A number of governments have used it to suppress Arab Spring protests (see photos) in recent years, causing injuries and some deaths.

In August 2012, Physicians for Human Rights released a report

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