Wyden Asks Feds to Answer Health Questions Raised Under Trump Administration About Use of Tear Gas, Chemical Agents in Portland
Senator: “Medical experts have attributed various health concerns to the acute exposure of tear gas and other chemical agents, and health experts continue their research to understand the long-term impacts of exposure”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden has asked the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) head about health questions left unanswered for months by the federal agency under the Trump administration that deal with the department’s sustained use of tear gas and chemical agents during protests in Portland.
In his letter Feb. 2 to newly confirmed DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Wyden noted that the questions he raised last summer to Trump’s DHS now take on renewed importance in the wake of more recent concerns about federal law enforcement’s use of tear gas and other chemical agents in Portland.
“In particular, the City of Portland and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality have identified a higher presence of cyanide and heavy metals near the federal courthouse and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Southwest Portland, where federal law enforcement personnel were deployed,” Wyden wrote. “Reports state that federal law enforcement officials used riot control munitions and tear gas at the latter site just last week—a location that is adjacent to a K-8 school and a low-income housing community with veterans preference.”
“Medical experts have attributed various health concerns to the acute exposure of tear gas and other chemical agents, and health experts continue their research to understand the long-term impacts of exposure,” Wyden wrote. “Environmental groups have also expressed their serious concern about the spread of such chemicals throughout the city and its impact on the health of the community and surrounding wildlife.”
Among the questions Wyden listed as left unanswered by DHS under the Trump administration include details on federal law enforcement personnel deployed in Portland for protests; what tear gas and other riot control agents federal law enforcement used and what processes were in place to approve their use; whether federal law enforcement used hexachloroethane (HCE) smoke; whether federal law enforcement used expired tear gas or other expired chemical agents in Portland and whether the impact of those agents has been examined.
A copy of the entire letter is here.
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