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Struggling for breath

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Protesters quickly learned to live with high pressure water cannons and tear gas, but they did suffer and questions are being raised about the substances used by police. 

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The driver of a vehicle used to break down concrete barriers struggles to escape from a direct tear gas hit. THITI WANNAMONTHA

Struggling for breath

By the end of the clashes with riot police, anti-government protesters had become quite adept at dealing with high pressure water cannons and tear gas, wearing all different kinds of protective clothing and gear, preventing gas from spreading with sodden bags and even blowing the gas back with giant fans.

Still many, including Bangkok Post photographers and reporters, did suffer from the water and gas and the various substances mixed with it. These raised questions about whether the police complied with international practices as they repeatedly stated they did.

Many protesters exposed to the high-pressure water reported severe skin irritation.

Many protesters hit by high pressure water cannons reported severe blistering. SEKSAN ROJJANAMETAKUL

Those exposed to tear gas suffered shortness of breath and eye irritation.

Police also sprayed protesters with purple water, raising concerns about chemical contamination.

Bangkok Post photographer Patipat Jantong was among those sprayed with the police's high-pressure water near Chamai Maruchet bridge. His arms were burned and blistered afterwards.

Field medical volunteers stationed at the Royal Turf Club in the Nang Loeng area said demonstrators exposed to tear gas Monday were suffering more severe symptoms than those affected on Sunday. Protesters not only suffered eye and skin irritation, but also had difficulty breathing. The volunteer medics suspected the chemicals attacked the respiratory system.

Field hospital volunteers reported that eye irritations were a common complaint. PORNPROM SATRABHAYA

One volunteer, a supporter of the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy, told the Bangkok Post that some patients affected by tear gas experienced complications including dizziness, vomiting and coughing after exposure to the gas.

The medical volunteers were using herbal liquids made with ya-nang leaf (Tiliacora triandra) and rang cheud (laurel clock vine) to treat the injured.

According to the volunteer medics, a preliminary test of the police's purple water found acid levels at pH4. They were suspicious that sulphuric acid had been mixed with the water. "As a matter of safety, we urge independent organisations or the Medical Science Department to conduct tests on the substance used by police," a volunteer medic said.

However, the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (Capo) insists the use of tear gas on protesters complied with international standards.

Deputy national police chief and Capo deputy director Worapong Chiewpreecha said the tear gas had been deployed in line with the third round of Capo's measures, which aim to limit disturbances, destruction of state property and trespassing into restricted areas.

Tear gas is used to disperse protesters and can be deployed frequently because it only causes a temporary burning sensation, he said.

The Protection and Crowd Control Division's Sub-Division 1 superintendent, Nattapon Komintarachat, said officers were using tear gas canisters, powder-like tear gas and tear gas mixed with water. The liquid tear gas was imported from the United States. Pol Gen Worapong insisted these types of tear gases comply with international standards for crowd control.

Capo spokesman Piya Uthayo said the purple-coloured water was mixed with dye to help identify protesters.

The colour is hard to wash off so demonstrators who have entered restricted areas and tried to break down barriers could be separated from peaceful protesters, he said.

Adapted from a story by Paritta Wangkiat & Lamphai Intathep which appeared in yesterdays' Bangkok Post

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Vocabulary:

acid: a chemical, usually a liquid, that contains hydrogen and has a pH of less than seven. Acids are usually sour and can often burn holes in or damage things they touch. - กรด, ของเหลวที่มีฤทธิ์เป็นกรด, ของเหลวที่มีสภาพเป็นกรด

adept: good at doing something that is quite difficult - ชำนาญ

aim: to have as your purpose or goal - มีเป้าหมาย มีจุดมุ่งหมาย

barrier: a wall, pile of sandbags, etc., that prevents water from entering - สิ่งกีดขวาง

blister: a swelling on the surface of the skin that is filled with liquid and is caused, for example, by rubbing or burning - แผลพุพอง

breath: an amount of air that enters the lungs at one time; the air that you take into your lungs and send out again - ลมหายใจ

canister: a round metal container that is used to hold gases or chemical substances under pressure - กระป๋องสเปรย์

clash: a fight between groups of people - การปะทะกันสองฝ่าย

complications: additional medical problems which make it more difficult to treat an existing illness - อาการแทรกซ้อน

comply with: to obey a rule or law or do what someone asks you to do - ปฏิบัติตาม

concern: a worry - ความกังวล

contamination: the process of making something dirty, polluted, or poisonous by adding a chemical, waste, or infection - การปนเปื้อน

cough: to force air up through your throat with a sudden noise, especially when you have a cold - การไอ

deal with: to take action to solve a problem - จัดการปัญหา

demonstrators: people who march with other people in public to show that they support or oppose something - ผู้ชุมนุมประท้วง

deploy: (of police, soldiers, government officials or equipment) to put in place ready for action - ส่ง ประจำการ

destruction: when something is destroyed - การทำลาย, ภาวะที่ถูกทำลาย

disperse: (of a crowd) to cause to separate and move in different directions, i.e., to end being a crowd - สลาย (การชุมนุม)

disturbance: an occasion during which people behave in a noisy or violent way in a public place - ก่อความไม่สงบ หรือรบกวนประชาชน

dizziness: feeling as if everything is spinning around you and that you are not able to balance - เวียนศีรษะ

dye: a special liquid to change the colour of something - สารย้อมสี

exposed: openly affected by and not protected from - ได้รับ ในที่นี้หมายถึง สูดควันบุหรี่

frequently: happening often - บ่อยๆ

gear: the special clothes or equipment that you use for a particular activity - อุปกรณ์ ในการทำกิจกรรมต่างๆ

herbal: made with herbs, plants normally used as a medicine or for adding flavour to food - สมุนไพร

identify: to specify who someone is - ระบุชื่อ

import: to buy or bring in products from another country - นำเข้า

in line with: following a rule or system; also in accordance with and consistent with - สอดคล้องกับ

independent: not connected with or influenced by something (e.g., not being a member of a political party); not connected with each other - ซึ่งเป็นอิสระ, ไม่ขึ้นกับใคร

injured: hurt in an accident or attack - ได้รับบาดเจ็บ

irritation: a painful feeling in a part of the body, often with red skin or swelling - การทำให้ระคายเคือง,การยั่วโทสะ,การกวนประสาท,การทำให้ฉุนเฉียว,ความระคายเคือง,การอักเสบ

limit: to stop something from increasing beyond a particular amount or level - จำกัด

liquid: a substance that flows freely and is not a solid or a gas, for example water or oil - ของเหลว

medic: a person who is trained to give medical treatment, especially somebody in the armed forces - แพทย์, หมอ

patient: someone who is receiving medical treatment - คนป่วย, คนไข้

People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD): the union of several groups protesting against the Samak, Somchai and Abhisit and now Yingluck governments and which staged large protests against the Thaksin government as well - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย  

practice: a way of doing something - การปฏิบัติ

preliminary: early; not final - ขั้นต้น, ขั้นแรก, เบื้องต้น, ชั้นต้น

pressure: a force pressing against something - ความกดดัน

prevent: to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening - ขัดขวาง, กัน, กีดขวาง

property: things, especially valuable things, that are owned by someone - ทรัพย์สมบัติ, ทรัพย์สิน

protective: providing or intended to provide protection - ซึ่งปกป้อง

protester: someone who shows that they disagree with something by standing somewhere, shouting, carrying signs, etc - ผู้ต่อต้าน, ผู้ประท้วง

reporter: someone whose job is to write articles or make broadcasts about events in the news - ผู้สื่อข่าว, นักข่าว

respiratory system: the system involved in breathing air in and out - ระบบทางเดินหายใจ

restricted: intended only for people who have been given special permission - ที่จำกัด

riot police: police who are trained to deal with violent groups of people - ตำรวจปราบจราจล

sensation: a feeling that you get when something affects your body - ความรู้สึกต่อการสัมผัส

separate: to keep or put apart - แยก

severe: very serious and worrying - ที่รุนแรง ที่น่าเป็นห่วง

sodden: completely wet - เปียกชุ่ม

spread: to gradually affect or cover a larger area - แพร่กระจาย

standards: a level of quality that is normal or acceptable for a particular person or in a particular situation - มาตรฐาน, บรรทัดฐาน

state: government - รัฐบาล

station: to cause someone to be in a particular place to do a job - ตั้งประจำ

struggle: to try hard to do something that you find very difficult - พยายาม; ต่อสู้

substance: a particular type of liquid, solid, or gas - สาร

suffer: to experience something very unpleasant or painful - ประสบ

superintendent: a senior police officer - เจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจระดับสูง

suspicious: a feeling that someone or something cannot be trusted — - มีความสงสัย, ด้วยความสงสัย, สงสัย, พิรุธ

symptom: a sign that someone has an illness - อาการ

tear gas: a gas used by some police and armed forces to control crowds of people. It hurts the eyes and makes them produce tears - ก๊าซน้ำตา

temporary: done or used for only a limited period of time, i.e., not permanent - ชั่วคราว

trespassing: going onto someone's land or enter their building without permission - การบุกรุก,การรุกล้ำ

volunteer: someone who is not paid for the work that they do - อาสาสมัคร

vomit: to empty the contents of the stomach through the mouth - อาเจียน

water cannon: a machine that produces a powerful flow of water, used by the police to control crowds of people -

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