Pepper spray

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Pepper spray
Hottest-chili-rating.gif
HeatAbove peak
Scoville scale 100,000-450,000 SHU
US Army soldier sprayed with oleoresin capsicum spray Army pepper spray training(43026689691).jpg
US Army soldier sprayed with oleoresin capsicum spray

Pepper spray (also known as capsicum spray) is a lachrymatory agent (a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness) used in policing, riot control, crowd control, and self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears. [1] [2] Its inflammatory effects cause the eyes to close, taking away vision. This temporary blindness allows officers to more easily restrain subjects and permits people in danger to use pepper spray in self-defense for an opportunity to escape. It also causes temporary discomfort and burning of the lungs which causes shortness of breath. Although considered a less-than-lethal agent, it has been deadly in rare cases, and concerns have been raised about a number of deaths where being pepper sprayed may have been a contributing factor.

Riot control measures used by police, military, or other security forces during a riot

Riot control refers to the measures used by police, military, or other security forces to control, disperse, and arrest people who are involved in a riot, demonstration, or protest. If a riot is spontaneous and irrational, actions which cause people to stop and think for a moment can be enough to stop it. However, these methods usually fail when there is severe anger with a legitimate cause, or the riot was planned or organized. Law enforcement officers or military personnel have long used less lethal weapons such as batons and whips to disperse crowds and detain rioters. Since the 1980s, riot control officers have also used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and electric tasers. In some cases, riot squads may also use Long Range Acoustic Devices, water cannons, armoured fighting vehicles, aerial surveillance, police dogs or mounted police on horses. Officers performing riot control typically wear protective equipment such as riot helmets, face visors, body armor, gas masks and riot shields. However, there are also cases where lethal weapons are used to violently suppress a protest or riot, as in the Boston Massacre, Haymarket Massacre, Banana Massacre, Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Kent State Massacre, Soweto Uprising, Mendiola Massacre, Bloody Sunday (1905), Bloody Sunday (1972),Venezuelan Protest(2017),Tuticorin Massacre (2018)

Crowd control

Crowd control is a public security practice where large crowds are managed to prevent the outbreak of crowd crushes, affray, fights involving drunk and disorderly people or riots. Crowd crushes in particular can cause many hundreds of fatalities. Effective crowd management is about managing expected and unexpected crowd occurrences. Crowd control can involve privately hired security guards as well as police officers. Crowd control is often used at large, public gatherings like street fairs, music festivals, stadiums and public demonstrations. At some events, security guards and police use metal detectors and sniffer dogs to prevent weapons and drugs being brought into a venue.

Self-defense countermeasure that involves defending oneself, ones property, or the well-being of another from harm

Self-defense is a countermeasure that involves defending the health and well-being of oneself from harm. The use of the right of self-defense as a legal justification for the use of force in times of danger is available in many jurisdictions.

Contents

Components

The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the genus Capsicum , including chilis. Extraction of oleoresin capsicum (OC) from peppers requires capsicum to be finely ground, from which capsaicin is then extracted using an organic solvent such as ethanol. The solvent is then evaporated, and the remaining waxlike resin is the oleoresin capsaicin.

Capsaicin chemical compound

Capsaicin is an active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact. Capsaicin and several related compounds are called capsaicinoids and are produced as secondary metabolites by chili peppers, probably as deterrents against certain mammals and fungi. Pure capsaicin is a hydrophobic, colorless, highly pungent, crystalline to waxy solid compound.

<i>Capsicum</i> genus of plants

Capsicum, the pepper, is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas, where they have been cultivated for thousands of years. Following the Columbian Exchange, it has become cultivated worldwide, and it has also become a key element in many cuisines. In addition to use as spices and food vegetables, Capsicum species have also been used as medicines and lachrymatory agents.

Chili pepper fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae

The chili pepper from Nahuatl chīlli is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum which are members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Chili peppers are widely used in many cuisines as a spice to add heat to dishes. The substances that give chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin and related compounds known as capsaicinoids.

An emulsifier such as propylene glycol is used to suspend OC in water, and pressurized to make it aerosol in pepper spray. High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is used to measure the amount of capsaicin and major capsaicinoids within pepper sprays.

Propylene glycol chemical compound

Propylene glycol (IUPAC name: propane-1,2-diol) is a synthetic organic compound with the chemical formula C3H8O2. It is a viscous, colorless liquid which is nearly odorless but possesses a faintly sweet taste. Chemically it is classed as a diol and is miscible with a broad range of solvents, including water, acetone, and chloroform.

Aerosol colloid of fine solid particles or liquid droplets, in air or another gas

An aerosol is a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets, in air or another gas. Aerosols can be natural or anthropogenic. Examples of natural aerosols are fog, dust, forest exudates and geyser steam. Examples of anthropogenic aerosols are haze, particulate air pollutants and smoke. The liquid or solid particles have diameters typically <1 μm; larger particles with a significant settling speed make the mixture a suspension, but the distinction is not clear-cut. In general conversation, aerosol usually refers to an aerosol spray that delivers a consumer product from a can or similar container. Other technological applications of aerosols include dispersal of pesticides, medical treatment of respiratory illnesses, and convincing technology. Diseases can also spread by means of small droplets in the breath, also called aerosols.

Determining the strength of different manufacturers of pepper sprays can be confusing and difficult. Statements a company makes about their product strength are not regulated. A method using the capsaicin and related capsaicinoids (CRC) content of the product is unreliable as well, because there are six different types of capsaicinoids, causing different levels of irritation. Manufacturers do not state which particular type of capsaicinoids are used. Personal pepper sprays can range from a low of 0.18% to a high of 3%. Most law enforcement pepper sprays use between 1.3% and 2%. The federal government of the United States has determined that bear attack deterrent sprays must contain at least 1.0% and not more than 2% CRC. CRC does not measure the amount of OC within the formulation. Instead, CRC is the pain-producing component of the OC that produces the burning sensation.

The federal government of the United States makes no mention of Scoville heat units (SHU) or OC in their requirements, only CRC (only for bear attack deterrent sprays). But, there are countries (Italy, Portugal and Spain - see below, under "Legality") and a few states within the US that do mention OC limitations. Some manufacturers may show a very high percentage of OC and, although OC is the active ingredient within the formulation, it does not indicate pepper spray strength. High OC percentage also indicates that a spray has more oil content; which, can possibly use lower grade pepper oils (but, more of it), or lower grade capsaicinoids (within the major CRCs) and also has less ability to soak and penetrate skin than a formula with a less, but higher-quality, pepper oil, because oil has hydrophobic properties.

Scoville scale

The Scoville scale is a measurement of the pungency of chili peppers and other spicy foods, as recorded in Scoville Heat Units (SHU) based on the concentration of capsaicinoids, among which capsaicin is the predominant component. The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, whose 1912 method is known as the Scoville organoleptic test. In the 21st century, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is used to quantify the capsaicinoid content as an indicator of pungency. The most expedient method for estimating SHU is a subjective assessment derived from the capsaicinoid sensitivity by people experienced with eating hot chilis.

The OC percentage measures only the amount of chili oil extract contained in the defense spray, not the strength, pungency or effectiveness of the product. Other companies may show a high SHU. The SHU is a measurement of the base resin compound and not what comes out in the aerosol. The rated irritant effect of the resin may be diluted depending on how much of it is put in the can.[ citation needed ]

Counterparts

There are several counterparts of pepper spray developed and legal to possess in some countries:

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Nonivamide, also called pelargonic acid vanillylamide or PAVA, is an organic compound and a capsaicinoid. It is an amide of pelargonic acid and vanillyl amine. It is present in chili peppers, but is commonly manufactured synthetically. It is more heat-stable than capsaicin.

PAVA spray is an incapacitant spray similar to pepper spray. It is dispensed from a handheld canister in a liquid stream. It contains a 0.3% solution of pelargonic acid vanillylamide (PAVA), a synthetic capsaicinoid, in a solvent of aqueous ethanol. The propellant is nitrogen. This solution has been selected because this is the minimum concentration which will fulfil the purpose of the equipment; namely to minimise a person's capacity for resistance without unnecessarily prolonging their discomfort. PAVA is significantly more potent than CS gas. The liquid stream is a spray pattern and has a maximum effective range of up to 4 metres. Maximum accuracy, however, will be achieved over a distance of 1.25 – 2 metres. The operating distance is the distance between the canister and the subject's eyes, not the distance between the user and the subject.

Effects

Pepper spray demonstration Pepper spray Demonstration.jpg
Pepper spray demonstration
US Marines training after being exposed to pepper spray. MCMAP1.jpg
US Marines training after being exposed to pepper spray.

Pepper spray is an inflammatory agent. It inflames the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. [4] It causes immediate closing of the eyes, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and coughing. [5] The duration of its effects depends on the strength of the spray, but the average full effect lasts from 20 to 90 minutes, but eye irritation, redness and tears can last for up to 24 hours. [6]

The Journal of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science published a study that concluded that single exposure of the eye to OC is harmless, but repeated exposure can result in long-lasting changes in corneal sensitivity. They found no lasting decrease in visual acuity. [7]

The European Parliament Scientific and Technological Options Assessment (STOA) published in 1998 "An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control" [8] with extensive information on pepper spray and tear gas. They write:

The effects of pepper spray are far more severe, including temporary blindness which lasts from 15–30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which lasts from 45 to 60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 and 15 minutes.

For those with asthma, taking other drugs, or subject to restraining techniques that restrict the breathing passages, there is a risk of death. In 1995, the Los Angeles Times reported at least 61 deaths associated with police use of pepper spray since 1990 in the USA. [9] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) documented 27 people in police custody who died after exposure to pepper spray in California since 1993. [10] [11] [12] However, the ACLU report counts any death occurring within hours of exposure to pepper spray. In all 27 cases, the coroners' report listed other factors as the primary cause of death, though in some cases the use of pepper spray may have been a contributing factor. [10]

The US Army concluded, in a 1993 Aberdeen Proving Ground study, that pepper spray could cause "[m]utagenic effects, carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity, as well as possible human fatalities. There is a risk in using this product on a large and varied population". [13] However, the pepper spray was widely approved in the US despite the reservations of the US military scientists after it passed FBI tests in 1991. As of 1999, it was in use by more than 2,000 public safety agencies. [14]

The head of the FBI's Less-Than-Lethal Weapons Program at the time of the 1991 study, Special Agent Thomas W. W. Ward, was fired by the FBI and was sentenced to two months in prison for receiving payments from a peppergas manufacturer while conducting and authoring the FBI study that eventually approved pepper spray for FBI use. [12] [15] [16] Prosecutors said that from December 1989 through 1990, Ward received about $5,000 a month for a total of $57,500, from Luckey Police Products, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company that was a major producer and supplier of pepper spray. The payments were paid through a Florida company owned by Ward's wife. [17]

Pepper spray has been associated with positional asphyxiation of individuals in police custody. There is much debate over the actual "cause" of death in these cases. There have been few controlled clinical studies of the human health effects of pepper spray marketed for police use, and those studies are contradictory. Some studies have found no harmful effects beyond the effects described above. [18]

Direct close-range spray can cause more serious eye irritation by attacking the cornea with a concentrated stream of liquid (the so-called "hydraulic needle" effect). Some brands have addressed this problem by means of an elliptically cone-shaped spray pattern.

Acute response

For individuals not previously exposed to OC effects, the general feelings after being sprayed can be best likened to being "set alight." The initial reaction should the spray be directed at the face, is the completely involuntary closing of the eyes (sometimes described as leading to a disconcerting sensation of the eyelids "bubbling and boiling" as the chemical acts on the skin), an instant sensation of the restriction of the airways and the general feeling of sudden and intense, searing pain about the face, nose, and throat. Coughing almost always follows the initial spray.[ citation needed ]

Subsequent breaths through the nose or mouth lead to ingestion of the chemical, which feeds the feeling of choking. Police are trained to repeatedly instruct targets to "breathe normally" if they complain of difficulty, as the shock of the exposure can generate considerable panic as opposed to actual physical symptoms.[ citation needed ]

Treatment

Capsaicin is not soluble in water, and even large volumes of water will not wash it off. In general, victims are encouraged to blink vigorously in order to encourage tears, which will help flush the irritant from the eyes.

A study of five often-recommended treatments for skin pain (Maalox, 2% lidocaine gel, baby shampoo, milk, or water) concluded that: [19]

...there was no significant difference in pain relief provided by five different treatment regimens. Time after exposure appeared to be the best predictor for decrease in pain...

To avoid rubbing the spray into the skin, thereby prolonging the burning sensation, and, in order to not spread the compound to other parts of the body, victims should try to avoid touching affected areas. There are also wipes manufactured [20] for the express purpose of serving to decontaminate someone having received a dose of pepper spray. Many ambulance services and emergency departments use baby shampoo to remove the spray and with generally good effect. Some of the OC and CS will remain in the respiratory system, but a recovery of vision and the coordination of the eyes can be expected within 7 to 15 minutes. [21]

Some "triple-action" pepper sprays also contain "tear gas" (CS gas), which can be neutralized with sodium metabisulfite (Campden tablets, used in homebrewing), though it is not water-soluble either and must be washed off using the same procedure as for pepper spray.

Pepper spray antidotes exist; examples include capsazepine, ruthenium red, and other TRPV1 antagonists.[ medical citation needed ]

Use

Pepper spray typically comes in canisters, which are often small enough to be carried or concealed in a pocket or purse. Pepper spray can also be purchased concealed in items such as rings. There are also pepper spray projectiles available, which can be fired from a paintball gun. It has been used for years against demonstrators. Many such canisters also contain dyes, either visible or UV-reactive, to mark an attacker's skin or clothing to enhance identification by police.

Legality

Pepper spray is banned for use in war by Article I.5 of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the use of all riot control agents in warfare whether lethal or less-than-lethal. [22] In the US, when pepper spray is used in the workplace, OSHA requires a pepper spray "Material Safety Data Sheet" (MSDS) be available to all employees. [23]

Africa

Asia

Europe

Police, like this Swedish police officer in riot gear at a 2007 demonstration, may use pepper spray to control civilians. Swedish riot police at nationalist demo.jpg
Police, like this Swedish police officer in riot gear at a 2007 demonstration, may use pepper spray to control civilians.

North America

Canada

Pepper spray designed to be used against people is considered a prohibited weapon in Canada. The definition under regulation states "any device designed to be used for the purpose of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person by the discharge therefrom of (a) tear gas, Mace or other gas, or (b) any liquid, spray, powder or other substance that is capable of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person" is a prohibited weapon. [50]

Only law enforcement officers may legally carry or possess pepper spray labeled for use on persons. Any similar canister with the labels reading "dog spray" or "bear spray" is regulated under the Pest Control Products Act—while legal to be carried by anyone, it is against the law if its use causes "a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person" or harming the environment and carries a penalty up to a fine of $500,000 and jail time of maximum 3 years. [51] Carrying bear spray in public, without justification, may also lead to charges under the Criminal Code. [52]

United States

It is a federal offense to carry/ship pepper spray on a commercial airliner or possess it beyond the security metal detectors at the airport. State law and local ordinances regarding possession and use vary across the country.

Pepper spray can be legally purchased and carried in all 50 states. Some states regulate the maximum allowed strength of the pepper spray, age restriction, content and use. [53]

  • California: As of January 1, 1996 and as a result of Assembly Bill 830 (Speier), the pepper spray and mace programs are now deregulated. Consumers will no longer be required to have training, and a certificate is not required to purchase or possess these items. Pepper spray and mace are available through gun shops, sporting goods stores, and other business outlets. California Penal Code Section 12400 - 12460 govern pepper spray use in California. [54] Container holding the defense spray must contain no more than 2.5 ounces (71 g) net weight of aerosol spray. [55]
    • Certain individuals are still prohibited from possessing pepper spray, including minors under the age of 16, convicted felons, individuals convicted of narcotic/drug addiction, individuals convicted of assault, and individuals convicted of misusing pepper spray. [54]
  • Massachusetts: Before July 1, 2014, residents may purchase defense sprays only from licensed Firearms Dealers in that state, and must hold a valid Firearms Identification Card (FID) or License to Carry Firearms (LTC) to purchase or to possess outside of one's own private property. [56] New legislations allow residents to purchase pepper spray without a Firearms Identification Card starting July 1. [57]
  • Florida: Any pepper spray containing no more than 2 ounces of chemical can be carried in public openly or concealed without a permit. [58] [59] Furthermore, any such pepper spray is classified as "self-defense chemical spray" and therefore not considered a weapon under Florida law. [60]
  • Michigan: Allows "reasonable use" of spray containing not more than 18% oleoresin capsicum to protect "a person or property under circumstances that would justify the person's use of physical force". [61] It is illegal to distribute a "self-defense spray" to a person under 18 years of age.
  • New York: Can be legally possessed by any person age 18 or over. Just allowed with no more than % 0.67 capsaicin content
    • It must be purchased in person (i.e., cannot be purchased by mail-order or internet sale) either at a pharmacy or from a licensed firearm retailer (NY Penal Law 265.20 14) and the seller must keep a record of purchases.
      • The use of pepper spray to prevent a public official from performing his/her official duties is a class-E felony.
  • New Jersey: Non-felons over the age of 18 can possess a small amount of pepper spray, with no more than three-quarters of an ounce of chemical substance.
  • Virginia: Code of Virginia § 18.2-312. Illegal use of tear gas, phosgene and other gases. "If any person maliciously release or cause or procure to be released in any private home, place of business or place of public gathering any tear gas, mustard gas, phosgene gas or other noxious or nauseating gases or mixtures of chemicals designed to, and capable of, producing vile or injurious or nauseating odors or gases, and bodily injury results to any person from such gas or odor, the offending person shall be guilty of a Class 3 felony. If such act be done unlawfully, but not maliciously, the offending person shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the use of tear gas or other gases by police officers or other peace officers in the proper performance of their duties, or by any person or persons in the protection of person, life or property." [62]
  • Washington: Persons over 18 may carry personal-protection spray devices.
    • Persons over age 14 may carry personal-protection spray devices with their legal guardian's consent. [63]
  • Wisconsin: Tear gas is not permissible.
    • By regulation, OC products with a maximum OC concentration of 10% and weight range of oleoresin of capsicum and inert ingredients of 15-60 grams are authorized. This is 12 and 2 oz (14 and 57 g) spray. Further, the product cannot be camouflaged, and must have a safety feature designed to prevent accidental discharge. The units may not have an effective range of over 20 feet and must have an effective range of six feet.
      • In addition there are certain labeling and packaging requirements, it must state cannot sell to anyone under 18 and the phone number of the manufacturer has to be on the label. The units must also be sold in sealed tamper-proof packages. [64] [65]

South America

Australia

New Zealand

Notable civilian use advocates

In June 2002, West Australian resident Rob Hall was convicted for using a canister of pepper spray to break up an altercation between two guests at his home in Midland. Despite being sentenced to a good behavior bond and granted a spent conviction order, Hall appealed to the Supreme Court, and Justice Christine Wheeler ruled in Hall's favor, thereby legalizing pepper spray in the state on a case-by-case basis for those who are able to show a reasonable excuse. [69] [74]

On 14 March 2012, an individual "dressed in black including a black scarf wrapped around his or her face" entered the public gallery of the New South Wales Legislative Council and launched a paper plane into the air in the form of a petition to Police Minister Mike Gallacher calling on the government to allow civilians to carry capsicum spray. [75]

Notable use by law enforcement

See also

Related Research Articles

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Oc or OC may refer to:

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