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SALEM — In 2020, Black Lives Matter protesters were doused with tear gas, making them gasp for breath, their eyes feeling as if they were on fire. Bystanders, including children and pregnant women, were also exposed.

As police responded to mass protests in Portland and across the nation two years ago with tear gas and other chemical munitions, more than a dozen U.S. senators asked the congressional watchdog to find out whether federal agencies have assessed how safe they are.