Tear Gas Cleanup, Removal & Neutralization Procedure
Tear gas is a favorite of both military and the police. Worldwide, it is used every day, usually to suppress protesters and control crowds. In this article we will explain more about it, and the tear gas cleanup procedures.
That being said, tear gas residue can be hazardous to your health, so we recommend that you call this national hotline for a free estimate from a pro in your area: (855) 876–5790
A Bit of Tear Gas History
The first tear gases were made during World War I when all sides were using chemical weapons. The Germans dropped the first tear gas, but it was so ineffective, the British troops had no idea they were being attacked. Two years later, in 1916, they had perfected a gas irritant that blinded French troops who were quickly surrounded by German troops. You can learn more about the history at this link.
What is Tear Gas?
In order to properly understand the tear gas removal procedures, we need to understand what it is. The most common gas used by police in the US and elsewhere is CS gas. Named for the two inventors, Ben Corson and Roger Stoughton, 2-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, CS gas was created in 1928 and was tested during the 1950s and 1960s.
Today’s tear gas formulations include several different compounds:
● Chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (CS)
● Chloroacetophenone (CN)
● Dibenzoxazepine (CR)
● Oleoresin Capsicum (OC or pepper spray)
CS gas is not technically a gas. It is shot or thrown in canisters that contain a solid material that turns to a gas when exposed to air and moisture. The resulting chemical reaction makes the canister hot and fills the air with a noxious gas.
What Are the Effects of Tear Gas?
The purpose of tear gas is to irritate the mucous membranes of the head. These chemicals cause the eyes to tear, the nose to run, and cause constricted breathing. Some of these gas formulations, such as CN gas, are considered lethal in higher concentrations.
During military training, the Navy exposes all new recruits to CS gas in a chamber to teach them to trust and how to use gas masks. During that exposure, the instructors will tell recruits that one of the keys is to breathe calmly when exposed. They say, in fact, that if you pass out, you’ll be able to breathe just fine. It’s the conscious feeling of irritation that is responsible for the mucus, tears, and salivation.
How Long Does Tear Gas Take To Dissipate?
If the gas is released outdoors, most of it should be dissipated within a couple hours. If it is indoors though, you may see residue left in the house until it can be properly remediated.
How It Affects a Home
In this video from WNYT, a couple of homeowners who were not the subject of the tear gas attack by police struggle to remove the residue:
The particles of CS gas are heavier than air and will settle into carpets, wood, wallboard, and more. As this couple describes, their bodies have been reacting to the gas months later, in spite of a “clean up crew” from the insurance company coming in.
There is an important point here: Their home is a mess because the chemicals soak into everything. Even if you think that it has been cleaned it might not be. If you are attempting to clean the furniture yourself, it’s going to take a lot of trial and error to get it out of thick cushions.
A professional team, although obviously not the one sent into this family’s home, will have the equipment to the job well. It’s really all about making certain that everything is cleaned, through and through.
While it’s not possible to completely neutralize tear gas, there are some things that you can do to reduce the impact.
The two most common types of tear gas used are chloroacetophenone (CN) and chlorobenzylidene-malononitrile (CS), as well as pepper spray.
The very first step is to get away from the exposure. If you’re in your home, get out as soon as possible. Get to fresh air.
The temptation is to rub your eyes, but that will likely make it worse. These are oil-based substances. Rubbing them will only spread then and push them deeper into your pores.
Next, get your clothes off, all of them. These are insidious chemicals that soak into clothing, right down to your underwear. Take off your clothes, put them in a bag and wash them later with lots of water. Run them a couple of times through a washing machine. Remember to wear gloves when you take them out of the bag and avoid touching the machine itself or you’ll get a nasty surprise the next time you do laundry.
The key right now is to let the gas dry on your skin. The painful reaction is caused by the chemical reaction with water. Let it dry on your skin and wait for the effects to subside.
The only time that this is not true is when you have access to ample water and soap, such as a decontamination tent. There they will scrub you down and use soap to get the gas off of your skin.
Once the gas has dried and you’ve removed your clothes, you’re going to need to get it off your skin permanently. Start with your face in the sink. Keep the water as cold as you can stand scrub like your life depends on it. It’s going to hurt the first time around as the gas reactivates, but the second and third times you wash it will be much less or simply be gone.
It’s advisable at this point to hop into a cold shower. You can then find those spots that got gas on them that you couldn’t feel when you were in the midst of everything. Again, scrub and you should be fine.
Milk is often recommended for the eyes. Put milk into a shot glass and press it against your eye. Then tilt your head back and it will help neutralize the gas.
Baking soda can also help. A solution of baking soda and water might help a great deal in reducing the pain and neutralize the chemicals.
In some cases, the chemicals are fat soluble, so using butter or shortening can help.
There’s a reason that there is no definitive way to neutralize these chemicals. It’s because there are different formulas. If they only used one formulation, we would figure out how to neutralize it and it would be useless.
The only real answer is lots and lots of water and soap, but that might be a few steps away from where you’re at the moment.
Step 1: Wash All Clothes, Curtains, and Anything Else That Can Be Removed
Don’t simply hang them back up. They’ll be exposed to the gas again. They should be washed off the property and secured away from the house while you clean.
Step 2: Discard Contaminated Food Items For Tear Gas Removal
If your house or commercial property was hit directly, all of the food needs to be discarded. Cardboard boxes, paper labels, and other food packaging, as well as the food itself, will likely have been affected. If the refrigerator or freezer was opened while the gas was in the air, everything in there will need to go as well.
Step 3: Use an Alcohol or Water Based Cleaner
CS gas is activated by water, so you either need a lot of water to clean it up or an alcohol-based cleaner. There are also some professional cleaners on the market that neutralize the gas.
Step 4: Address Contaminated Carpets
For proper tear gas removal, the carpets need to be cleaned several times. Once cleaned, they should be tested and might need to be removed.
Step 5: Soft Items, Like Beds and Furniture, Will Likely Need to Be Discarded.
Getting the gas out of the thick foam is extremely difficult, so it can often be best to just dispose of them altogether
Step 6: Clean Your HVAC System
In this step of the tear gas removal process, the ventilation system of the home needs to be cleaned from the air intake panel through to each room. This requires a heating system cleaner, a piece of equipment that is very specialized and is designed for scrubbing ductwork. Every space in the house needs to be wiped and scrubbed. Inside of cabinets, behind closed doors, everywhere. The home’s ventilation and the tiny size of CS particles will cause it to go into every crevice and hole.
Step 7: Wipe and Scrub Down the Contaminated Building(s)
Every space in the house needs to be wiped and scrubbed. Inside of cabinets, behind closed doors, everywhere. The home’s ventilation and the tiny size of CS particles will cause it to go into every crevice and hole. One cleaning agent manufacturer recommends heating the house and installing a HEPA air filter with charcoal odor-neutralizer. This will reanimate the gas and the filter will collect the particles and you can discard them.
They also recommend using a cleaner-degreaser. The oily nature of these chemicals makes that a good idea. A degreaser will remove the particles from any non-porous surface.
Step 8: If This Sounds Daunting, and You Want to Make Sure It’s Done Well, Call a Professional Tear Gas Cleanup
For most homeowners, it will be much easier to hire a team of professionals to clean your home after a tear gas attack. The particles of the gas are designed to be very sticky and to remain on every surface for months or years. Although it will lose its efficacy over time, it can take years to become completely inert.
A professional team will be able to find all of the places that the gas has gotten into and has the chemicals and tools to remove it without damaging surfaces.
What to Do Immediately After a Gas Attack?
The first thing to do is to change and wash your clothes. Get away from the area and get to some fresh air.
Then contact this national hotline (855) 876–5790) to get a free estimate from a pro anywhere in the USA.
They will dispatch a local team to start cleaning your home immediately so that you can get back in ASAP. They can even get your clothes out so that you will have something to wear while we clean your home. So if your home or commercial property has been effected, call (855) 876–5790 today for tear gas cleanup and removal services in your local area.