Three types of riot control agents are recognized: lacrimators, sternutators, and vomiting agents. Because these compounds- CS, CN, DM, CR, and CA- have a number of characteristics in common, they are grouped together in this chapter. Riot control agents are intended to harass or to cause temporary incapacitation. Their intended target might be the foe in an armed conflict--with the limitations outlined above--or rioters in a civil disturbance. Much evidence suggests that riot control agents are safe if they are used as intended and if the response is as intended. When they are not used as intended, and the response is not as intended, how ever, there may be devastating consequences (e.g., the deaths of the Branch Davidians at Waco, Tex.). Almost all of the reported adverse effects have resulted from indiscriminate use of weapons containing riot control agents or from resistance to the effects of the compounds, which increases the amount of exposure. Sometimes injury results from the effects of the delivery system of the weapon rather than from the compound; these two sources of injury should not be confused. Indiscriminate or uncontrolled use of CS, or any riot control compound, is obviously not desired, nor is it necessary in circumstances in which a better, less drastic solution is possible. But the use of CS or CN might be more benign than the use of more deadly alternatives in desperate circumstances. As the data clearly suggest, CS is a relatively safe compound when used as intended.
Textbook of Military Medicine: Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare, p. 307-324