What are Riot Control Agents?

“Riot Control Agents” such as Tear Gas and Pepper spray are used by law enforcement for crowd control. These are chemicals which cause temporary irritation to the eyes, lungs, skin, mouth and throat. The effects usually last 15-30 minutes.

After exposure, a person may experience the following symptoms:

Burning eyes/ mouth/throat/nose, drooling, runny eyes, runny nose. swelling, rash, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, choking sensation

Prepare ahead of time. You should avoid wearing contact lenses. It may also be a good idea to wear long sleeved clothing to protect your skin from chemical exposure. Also, wear a face mask since Covid-19 is still an issue and is easily spread in crowded areas.


If you are sprayed with pepper spray or tear gas, take the following steps

  1. Stay calm, panicking will make matters worse
  2. Clear the area, get to an area with fresh air.
  3. Remove your clothing as soon as possible
  4. Flush your eyes with water.
  5. Wash your skin. You can use baby shampoo, 50/50 mixture of Water and Regular Milk of Magnesia (without mint) or a solution of baking soda and water by dissolving 6 teaspoons of baking soda in a regular 16 oz bottle of water

As stated above, symptoms are usually short-lived, however, prolonged exposure can result in permanent eye damage and lung damage.  Any lingering symptoms should be evaluated by your doctor.

The poison control center is a good resource for additional information.

Regional poison control center: 1-800-222-1222


Adebola Oyekoya, MD Adebola Oyekoya, MD, leads Guardian Physicians, located in the Sandy Springs neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, as a family medicine physician. She offers the highest quality primary care in all areas, but she especially enjoys preventive care and treating chronic and acute conditions. Dr. Oyekoya earned her Doctor of Medicine from the Medical University of Lublin, a globally-ranked institution in Lublin, Poland. Afterward, she came to the United States, where she completed a residency in family medicine at John F. Kennedy Hospital in Edison, New Jersey. She is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She’s passionate about providing advanced, comprehensive care for adolescents and adults, including specialized geriatrics care. Dr. Oyekoya offers patient-focused services, personalized to fit every unique individual who walks through the door. She also makes sure to inform and educate her patients so that they understand their health and feel empowered to take an active role in their care.

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