As the article states, protestors demanding new elections faced-off with Bolivarian National Police who were blocking roadways in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. According to the Associated Press, a dozen people were injured in the protest on Monday, April 11, where demonstrators were seen covering their faces to protect themselves against the plumes of tear gas. Opposition members also distributed a picture of an expired tear gas canister that they said was found detonated at a previous demonstration.
Dr. Jordt is an expert on tear gas and other similar noxious, reactive gases and vapors. He studies the damage these gases may have on human airways and whether lung function is reduced in those exposed to them. In the article, he says, “Expired tear gas chemicals and solvents inside a cartridge could potentially react with each other or oxygen in the area and degrade, forming highly toxic gases. A degraded pyrotechnic charge propelling the cartridge could also lead to uncontrolled explosions.”
Dr. Jordt is an associate professor in anesthesiology and the director of the Chemical Sensing, Pain and Inflammation Research Laboratory which focuses on the mechanisms that enable humans and animals to sense touch, pain and irritation. He and his lab members strive to gain a greater understanding about how the compounds in tear gas have a chemical corrosive effect on the epithelial lining, causing burns and modifying cells. You can learn more about his research which was featured in the 2015 edition of Duke Anesthesiology’s annual magazine, BluePrint, in an article titled, “Tear Gas: A Novel Perspective in Pain Research.”