rn> Watch yourself in DC… “Health Issues Surfacing…”


Richard Moore

Dear rn,

Carolyn Ballard wrote and said she'd be part of a contingent going 
to DC April 16, and added...

  >...and pray that the DC police are a little more "discriminating" 
  >in their use of rubber bullets, pepper spray, etc.!

Don't count on it!  Anything perceived as an activist victory in D.C. - the
very heart of the beast - would be considered an insult to the global
empire.  I imagine the same behind-the-scenes Federal team that managed the
police in Seattle will be on hand in D.C. with new tricks up their sleeves.

We don't even know yet what chemicals were used in Seattle.  See below.


From: "Brian Hill" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Health Issues Surfacing for WTO Activists gassed in Seattle
Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2000 07:57:11 -0800
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Priority: 3

From: Larry Haiven <•••@••.•••
To: 'saskaltbudget' <•••@••.•••
Subject: Health Issues Surfacing for WTO Activists gassed in Seattle
Date: March 28, 2000 4:00 PM

The Georgia Straight March 16-23, 2000

Health Issues Surfacing for WTO Activists

by Charlie Smith

Giles Grierson, 26, was one of scores of local activists
tear-gassed during last year's World Trade Organization
meetings in Seattle. Just after dusk on November 30, a
canister exploded right beside him, spewing dense smoke into
his face. His hands were burned so badly, he said, that he
couldn't touch anything for the next 24 hours.

Before the WTO protests, Grierson often cycled from East
Vancouver to Simon Fraser University at the top of Burnaby
Mountain. In the month after he was tear-gassed, he suffered
serious breathing problems, stopping to gulp for air every
10 minutes. "If I was walking around with heavy bags of
groceries, I would have to sit down and catch my breath,"
Grierson recalled.

Two weeks after being tear-gassed, he fainted at a party,
banging his head against a counter. "Everyone thought I was
drunk, but it was only my second glass of wine," he said.

Grierson said a friend, who was tear-gassed in Seattle on
December 1, suffered intense anxiety afterward and
inexplicably bled out of her nose and mouth over the
Christmas holidays.

The Council of Canadians arranged transportation to the WTO
meetings for 41 busloads of activists, many of whom were
tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed. Countless members of the
media also got caught up in the melee. They might be
interested to know that the Seattle police department used a
type of tear gas not sold to Canadian police forces.
Recently, the Washington Toxics Coalition obtained the
"Material Safety Data Sheets" from the Seattle police
department for all chemicals used in crowd control. The
coalition's executive director, Carol Dansereau, told the
Straight that one type of tear gas used in Seattle, liquid
agent CN (commonly known as mace), is 50 percent active
ingredient (chlorolactetophenone) and 50 percent methylene
chloride, a common ingredient in paint strippers and varnish
removers. "It's a really nasty chemical," Dansereau said.

According to the U.S. National Toxicology Program and the
International Agency for Research on Cancer, she said,
methylene chloride is listed as a "possible/anticipated

Dansereau sent an e-mail to a long list of recipients,
stating: "Symptoms of over-exposure to methylene chloride
include central nervous system depression, temporary
neurobehavioral effects, spontaneous abortions, upper
respiratory tract irritation, dullness, mental confusion,
staggering, liver damage, accoustical [sic] and optical
delusions, corneal injury, kidney damage, lung damage,
tingling of limbs, and other problems."

The coalition also obtained confirmation from the Seattle
police department that standard pepper spray (oleoresin
capsicum) and a common form of tear gas, known as
pyrotechnic CS agent, were also used. Neither of these
products contains methylene chloride. Rob Cook, sales
manager for M. D. Charlton Co. Ltd. of Brentwood Bay, B.C.,
which sells tear gas and pepper spray to Canadian police
forces, told the Straight that liquid agent CN isn't used by
the RCMP or, to his knowledge, by any municipal police force
in Canada. "In fact, very few departments in the U.S., to my
knowledge, use CN," Cook said. "They use CS."

Dansereau emphasized that the coalition hasn't obtained
information on what chemical crowd-control agents were used
by county, state, and federal agencies in Seattle. Seattle
police-department spokesperson Officer Pam McCammon told the
Straight that she wouldn't answer questions about tear gas
while the department's handling of the WTO protests is still
under review.

Dr. Kirk Murphy, an assistant clinical professor of
psychiatry at the UCLA medical school, was part of the
medical collective that treated people at the protests.
Murphy, a member of the Los Angeles chapter of Physicians
for Social Responsibility, told the Straight that he has
since compiled anecdotal reports from more than 200 people
who reported either neuralgic symptoms or disruptions of
their menstrual cycles after being exposed to chemical
agents, as well as "a couple of reports of what would appear
to be spontaneous abortions".

"What we saw in Seattle was the uncontrolled use of
chemical-warfare agents against civilians," Murphy said.
"There is a pernicious silencealmost a psychotic amount of
denialabout the discharge of chemical weapons against our
own civilian populace, who, after all, were assembled to try
and advance their petition for the redress of grievances."

The symptoms that have been reported to Murphy, especially
the central-nervous-system disorders and menstrual changes,
parallel many of the side effects of exposure to methylene
chloride. Although he said his data is still incomplete,
Murphy said the longer-term physical consequences fall into
two broad categories: symptoms on surfaces that came into
contact with the chemical agents, such as skin, eyes, and
respiratory and digestive tracts; and symptoms of
central-nervous-system disorders.

He said some people had gastrointestinal disturbances for
weeks following the exposure. Some reported sustained
muscle-twitching, tingling, or numbness in exposed areas,
and sometimes in areas not directly exposed. In most cases,
these symptoms decreased within a few days to a few weeks
following the protests.

A subset of respondents reported lethargy, confusion,
disorientation, and diminished concentration for several
days to weeks following exposure. One graduate student
couldn't remember her thesis topic. In addition, Murphy
said, others reported ongoing disruption in their ability to
taste or smell, and some experienced visual difficulties
caused by a disruption in the dilation and constriction of
their pupils. Murphy said disruptions of uterine function,
spontaneous onset of menstruation, and the reports of what
appeared to be spontaneous abortions are consistent with
exposure to methylene chloride and are not the types of
things he has seen before while treating people who've been
exposed to pepper spray and CS.

"Another possibility for which we have no direct evidence at
this time and which I pray turns out not to be the case is
that these symptoms arose from the inclusion of other
agents," Murphy noted. He said he hopes to issue a final
report on April 13, just before protests begin at the
International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington, D.C.

  Larry Haiven, PhD
  Associate Professor
  Dept. of Industrial Relations and Organizational Behaviour
  College of Commerce, University of Saskatchewan
  25 Campus Drive
  Saskatoon, SK
  Tel: (306) 966-8451
  Fax: (306) 966-2516
  Website: <http://www.commerce.usask.ca/faculty/haiven

Richard K Moore
Wexford, Irleand
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance 
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