Children at a crèche in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have been rushed to a local clinic after they inhaled teargas.
According to ER24, seven children were exposed to teargas in Copesville, Pietermaritzburg on Monday morning.
“At approximately 11:25, paramedics from ER24 arrived at a crèche near Copesville High School where they found seven children crying and feeling unwell,” communications officer for ER24, Werner Vermaak, said in a statement.
“They were assessed by the medics and transported to a nearby clinic for further care.”
The crèche contacted the parents about the incident, which was related to protest action at the nearby Copesville High School, said ER24.
“The kids are still in the clinic at the moment and we don’t have any further feedback,” Vermaak said
He said that the children were not exposed directly to the teargas, and paramedics consoled the children on the way to the clinic.
A high school girl was also treated for an injury to her foot.
She told paramedics that she was hit by a rubber bullet.
“The exact circumstances surrounding the incident is not clear. Police are present on the scene,” said Vermaak.
According to a 1972 paper by Dr Sungmin Park and Dr Samuel T Giammona, the chemicals chloroacetophenone and orthochlorobenzylidene malononitrile (widely used in teargas) can induce severe clinical toxicity and young children are more vulnerable.
The American Academy of Pediatrics argued in 2018 that children are at risk when exposed to teargas.
“Children are uniquely vulnerable to physiological effects of chemical agents. A child’s smaller size, more frequent number of breaths per minute and limited cardiovascular stress response compared to adults magnifies the harm of agents such as teargas.”