Pepper Spray Is Harmful, Torturously Painful, And Can Be Deadly

largeTo sum up: the burning from so-called “pepper spray” is ten times more intense than that of the hottest peppers in existence, it can cause permanent respiratory, nerve, and eye damage, and in the mid-1990s was linked by the Justice Department to 70 deaths. Via Scientific American:

Aa American pharmacist named Wilbur Scoville developed a scale to measure the intensity of a pepper’s burn. The scale puts sweet bell peppers at the zero mark and the blistering habanero at up to 350,000 Scoville Units. Commercial grade pepper spray leaves even the most painful of natural peppers (the Himalayan ghost pepper) far behind. It’s listed at between 2 million and 5.3 million Scoville units. The lower number refers to the kind of pepper spray that you and I might be able to purchase for self-protective uses. And the higher number? It’s the kind of spray that police use, the super-high dose given in the orange-colored spray used at UC-Davis.

But we’ve taken to calling it pepper spray, I think, because that makes it sound so much more benign than it really is, like something just a grade or so above what we might mix up in a home kitchen.

But as pointed out in the 2004 paper, Health Hazards of Pepper Spray, written by health researchers at the University of North Carolina and Duke University, the sprays contain other risky materials:

Depending on brand, an OC spray may contain water, alcohols, or organic solvents as liquid carriers; and nitrogen, carbon dioxide, or halogenated hydrocarbons (such as Freon, tetrachloroethylene, and methylene chloride) as propellants to discharge the canister contents.(3) Inhalation of high doses of some of these chemicals can produce adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death.

As the North Carolina researchers point out, any compound that can influence nerve function is, by definition, risky. Research tells us that pepper spray acts as a potent inflammatory agent. It amplifies allergic sensitivities, it irritates and damages eyes, membranes, bronchial airways, the stomach lining – basically what it touches. It works by causing pain – and, as we know, pain is the body warning us of an injury.

The more worrisome effects have to do with inhalation – and by some reports, California university police officers deliberately put OC spray down protestors throats. Capsaicins inflame the airways, causing swelling and restriction. And this means that pepper sprays pose a genuine risk to people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Pepper spray use has been suspected of contributing to a number of deaths that occurred in police custody. In mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Justice cited nearly 70 fatalities linked to pepper-spray use, following on a 1995 report compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union of California.

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  • robertpinkerton

    I once saw another licensed security officer spray his hamburger with (grade unknown) pepper spray, then eat it. Now, while I do like native-hot chicken vindaloo and some Szechwan dishes, I think that was just herostratic.

  • Anonymous

    I once saw another licensed security officer spray his hamburger with (grade unknown) pepper spray, then eat it. Now, while I do like native-hot chicken vindaloo and some Szechwan dishes, I think that was just herostratic.

  • Ronniedobbs

    More Breaking News… researchers conclude that rubber bullets may also be
    harmful, torturously painful, and potentially deadly….

  • Ronniedobbs

    More Breaking News… researchers conclude that rubber bullets may also be
    harmful, torturously painful, and potentially deadly….

  • Clever ScreenName

    Damn…. Another sad sign of the apocalypse.  Would it not be reasonable self defense to spray an officer back who was using spray against you in an illegal capacity?  It is in fact illegal for any officer to use the spray if they are not in physical danger from someone.  When will a fair playing field be established in any regard on any manner?  Perhaps when Ron Paul wins in 2012.  That is if the sheeple out there really care about their freedoms.  Present company excluded of course.

    • Andrew

      That would be an interesting Constitutional Amendment–any citizen who is not breaking the law has the right of self-defense against law enforcement or other government agents who use violence against them.

      • Anarchy Pony

        While I find that morally acceptable, that would be one hell of a legal clusterfuck.

    • Anarchy Pony

      That’s cute, you think ron paul knows something about freedom.

      • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

        He knows a lot about freedom…for business…just not much about freedom for humans.

        • Anarchy Pony

          It’s all about private property rights with rightie libertarians. That’s pretty much all of the freedom they care about. Don’t have property? Then fuck you.

          • Monkey See Monkey Do

            A right-wing libertarian is like a meat-eating vegetarian.

          • Anarchy Pony

            You mean a hypocrite? Then yes, exactly.

  • Clever ScreenName

    Damn…. Another sad sign of the apocalypse.  Would it not be reasonable self defense to spray an officer back who was using spray against you in an illegal capacity?  It is in fact illegal for any officer to use the spray if they are not in physical danger from someone.  When will a fair playing field be established in any regard on any manner?  Perhaps when Ron Paul wins in 2012.  That is if the sheeple out there really care about their freedoms.  Present company excluded of course.

  • Andrew

    That would be an interesting Constitutional Amendment–any citizen who is not breaking the law has the right of self-defense against law enforcement or other government agents who use violence against them.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Pretty nasty for a food product. You know, a food product that tricks your nerves into thinking that you are on fire.
    So how about now megyn kelly(what a stupid name for stupid woman), Wanna test some of this food product?

  • Anarchy Pony

    Pretty nasty for a food product. You know, a food product that tricks your nerves into thinking that you are on fire.
    So how about now megyn kelly(what a stupid name for stupid woman), Wanna test some of this food product?

  • Anarchy Pony

    That’s cute, you think ron paul knows something about freedom.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    He knows a lot about freedom…for business…just not much about freedom for humans.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I once stepped out of a club on a windy night in Grand Rapids…and got a face blast of pepper spray from someone’s recently fired device during an after the bar scuffle. It was indirect contact of only a small amount of spray, rather than full blast as the target…

    …and I was still driven back inside where it took 15 minutes of washing just to get my ability to see clearly and breathe well back. Not cool…and that was 15 years ago and then some. I cannot even imagine what the commercial law grade is like.

    • Nunzio X

      >>I once stepped out of a club on a windy night in Grand Rapids…and got a
      face blast of pepper spray from someone’s recently fired device during
      an after the bar scuffle.<<

      Somebody ought to start an epic novel this way.

      • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

        Shit…in those days, age 22, in GR in the punk,glam,goth heydey…every f*cking night was the start or finish of an epic novel :-) Deaf mute punk rocker freaking on acid and running into the street…drag queens brawling and beating each other with their heels in hands like spangled gladiators…crazy baglady dressed in red white and blue sequins on a matching bicycle waving sparklers just because. Junkies huffing their own sleeves because they soaked amyl nitrate on them before leaving their place for the clubs. Hookers sassing passers-by, crack dealers cruising the outside of the club for that person looking to make the night a hardcore one. Countless older males driving slowly through the area known as the Whirlpool (because of the constant circling cars) looking for teenage tricks to pick up at reasonable rates.

        A filthy cesspit of lust and greed and diminished hope and lost innocence…God damn, how I miss it.

        • Anarchy Pony

          Somewhere in there is the plot to a contemporary Dickens novel.

    • the easy button

      when i was in high school some kid sprayed the hallways when everyone was in class right before the period bell. Kids were crying ,having trouble breathing and thinking it was something else more toxic. The school shut down, everyone was sent outside to the field then sent home. Its a weapon plain and simple and a defensive weapon at that. Having officers use it in an aggresive manner on defenseless people is just plain brutal.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I once stepped out of a club on a windy night in Grand Rapids…and got a face blast of pepper spray from someone’s recently fired device during an after the bar scuffle. It was indirect contact of only a small amount of spray, rather than full blast as the target…

    …and I was still driven back inside where it took 15 minutes of washing just to get my ability to see clearly and breathe well back. Not cool…and that was 15 years ago and then some. I cannot even imagine what the commercial law grade is like.

  • Nunzio X

    >>I once stepped out of a club on a windy night in Grand Rapids…and got a
    face blast of pepper spray from someone’s recently fired device during
    an after the bar scuffle.<<

    Somebody ought to start an epic novel this way.

  • the easy button

    when i was in high school some kid sprayed the hallways when everyone was in class right before the period bell. Kids were crying ,having trouble breathing and thinking it was something else more toxic. The school shut down, everyone was sent outside to the field then sent home. Its a weapon plain and simple and a defensive weapon at that. Having officers use it in an aggresive manner on defenseless people is just plain brutal.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Shit…in those days, age 22, in GR in the punk,glam,goth heydey…every f*cking night was the start or finish of an epic novel :-) Deaf mute punk rocker freaking on acid and running into the street…drag queens brawling and beating each other with their heels in hands like spangled gladiators…crazy baglady dressed in red white and blue sequins on a matching bicycle waving sparklers just because. Junkies huffing their own sleeves because they soaked amyl nitrate on them before leaving their place for the clubs. Hookers sassing passers-by, crack dealers cruising the outside of the club for that person looking to make the night a hardcore one. Countless older males driving slowly through the area known as the Whirlpool (because of the constant circling cars) looking for teenage tricks to pick up at reasonable rates.

    A filthy cesspit of lust and greed and diminished hope and lost innocence…God damn, how I miss it.

  • justagirl

    um.. shouldn’t that asian guy be calling the police?..

  • justagirl

    um.. shouldn’t that asian guy be calling the police?..

  • Ricky Jazzercise

    Has anyone other than me seen the first epidode of Jackass? They test all the legal non-lethal self defense weapons on themselves. Their assessment? Pepper Spary is BY FAR THE WORST. Seriously, way worse than tasering according to them.

  • Ricky Jazzercise

    Has anyone other than me seen the first epidode of Jackass? They test all the legal non-lethal self defense weapons on themselves. Their assessment? Pepper Spary is BY FAR THE WORST. Seriously, way worse than tasering according to them.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Somewhere in there is the plot to a contemporary Dickens novel.

  • Anarchy Pony

    It’s all about private property rights with rightie libertarians. That’s pretty much all of the freedom they care about. Don’t have property? Then fuck you.

  • Anarchy Pony

    It’s all about private property rights with rightie libertarians. That’s pretty much all of the freedom they care about. Don’t have property? Then fuck you.

  • Anarchy Pony

    While I find that morally acceptable, that would be one hell of a legal clusterfuck.

  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    A right-wing libertarian is like a meat-eating vegetarian.

  • Monkey See Monkey Do

    A right-wing libertarian is like a meat-eating vegetarian.

  • Dr K

    I’ve been shot six times, once in the eye, had a nuclear bomb dropped on me and been struck by lightning and I can tell you pepper spray is worse than all of them – way worse.

  • DrDavidKelly

    I’ve been shot six times, once in the eye, had a nuclear bomb dropped on me and been struck by lightning and I can tell you pepper spray is worse than all of them – way worse.

  • http://twitter.com/jasonpaulhayes jasonpaulhayes

    Non weaponized chili peppers can blister skin and cause asphyxiation. A lead developer of weapons grade pepper spray was on Democracy Now today and said it was only intended to be used as a last resort in situations that would otherwise call for lethal force. It’s internationally banned on all battle field because its not a food product as FOX NEWS recently reported, its a synthetic chemical agent.

    DemoNow Interview: http://www.democracynow.org/seo/2011/11/29/pepper_spray_creator_decries_use_of

    Hottest chili in the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvEuLyNnQCQ

  • jasonpaulhayes

    Non-weaponized chili peppers can blister skin and cause asphyxiation. A lead developer of weapons grade pepper spray was on Democracy Now today and said it was only intended to be used as a last resort in situations that would otherwise call for lethal force. It’s internationally banned on all battle field because its not a food product as FOX NEWS recently reported, its a synthetic chemical agent.

    DemoNow Interview: http://www.democracynow.org/seo/2011/11/29/pepper_spray_creator_decries_use_of

    Hottest chili in the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvEuLyNnQCQ

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps we can all recommend this other food product ricin to he Fox not-News personnel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricin. Why worry it’s just the left overs from castor oil http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castor_Oil, and castor oil is even used in medicines.

  • Anarchy Pony

    You mean a hypocrite? Then yes, exactly.

  • http://collegeofclimatechange.com.au/ Hydrocarbons

    Perhaps the best use for drying fuel gas with desiccants is at field compressor sites (gathering stations). These sites often operate at capacity and are unable to move more gas or lower suction pressure. If compressing wet gas, the operator must use sales gas that has been dehydrated (typically with TEG) for compressor fuel. This effectively reduces throughput and sales by “robbing” discharge gas for fuel.