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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pepper Spray

Scoville Chart via tb5 design

by Glenn Robinson

Pepper spray 

A chemical compound used in policing, riot control, crowd control, and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears. 

Vision Effects 

Designed to cause a horrific burning sensation in the eyes and temporary blindness; allowing officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits persons using pepper spray for self-defense an opportunity to escape. 

Respiratory Effects

"...burning of the throat, wheezing, dry cough, shortness of breath, gagging, gasping, inability to breathe or speak (due to laryngospasm or laryngeal paralysis), and, rarely, cyanosis, apnea, and respiratory arrest." --source

Active ingredient 

OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) an oily extract of pepper plants of the genus Capsicum. However, most law enforcement grade pepper sprays are have a much hotter burning effect than even the very hot habanero chili, according to the Scoville scale


Even if not intended, wind will blow pepper spray and it's chemicals into the eyes and respiratory system of any nearby babies, children, elderly and those with asthma. 
"...an OC spray may contain ... nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or halogenated hydrocarbons (such as Freon, tetrachloroethylene, and methylene chloride) as propellants to discharge the canister contents. Inhalation of high doses of some of these chemicals can produce adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death." -C. Gregory Smith, MD, MPH, and Woodhall Stopford, MD, MSPH

Deactivation and first aid

  1. Decontaminate towelettes are available and should be used to gently wipe away excess pepper spray so it does not have a chance to seep into the skin or to contaminate other body parts.
  2. Wash the effected area with baby shampoo (or Dawn dish washing liquid -source) to remove the oils from the spray. Baby shampoo will not cause as much eye irritation as other soaps. 
  3. If shampoo or soap is not available, use milk (or water as a second choice) to sooth the pain. Milk (or water) should be sprayed into the eyes with a misting bottle, or splashed directly on the skin, or saturated in a clean towel and laid over the effected area or the effected area can be immersed. However, remember milk and water do not remove the oils as quickly as soaps. 
  4. If above options are not available, 30 minutes of water mist, damp towel or water immersion can be used. 

A recovery of vision and the coordination of the eyes can be expected within 7 to 15 minutes. Pain should decrease in 30 minutes. 

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