- Chemical Defense
- Why Carry Pepper Spray (OC) Rather than a Conventional Weapon?
- What is Oleoresin Capsicum (OC)?
- Page 7
- Page 8
- Page 9
- Page 10
- Other Effects of Pepper Spray Usage
- Problems with Pepper Spray
- Types of OC Spray Nozzles
- Is Pepper Spray Legal?
- Where Can I Carry Pepper Spray?
- What is my Legal Liability with Pepper Spray?
- How Often Should I Replace My Canister of Pepper Spray?
- Are the Pocket Size or Key Ring Sprays Effective?
- What about a Ultraviolet (UV) dye in pepper spray?
- Get Proper Training
- All Pages
Problems with Pepper Spray
Serious adverse health effects, even death, have followed the use of OC sprays. These sprays should be regarded as poisons or weapons and kept away from children and teenagers. The risks of OC spray use by adults for self-defense has not been clinically studied, and its effectiveness as a crime deterrent is unknown.
Because there have been few controlled clinical studies of the human health effects of pepper spray marketed for police use, some physicians have surmised that pepper spray is not inherently lethal or dangerous. A retrospective review of 81 cases of OC exposure seen in the emergency department of Truman Medical Center, Kansas City, MO, and representing about 10% of total instances of spraying by the Kansas City Police Department over three years, found no significant ocular or pulmonary effects. Burning and redness of the eyes and exposed skin were the most common symptoms; there were corneal abrasions in 7 patients and respiratory symptoms in 6 patients, but none required hospitalization. Interestingly, 12 of the 81 had a history of asthma, but their respiratory symptoms were similar to the other 69. Five patients presented with shortness of breath or wheezing had a history of asthma (their wheezing resolved without treatment) and 3 had no apparent predisposing factors (and also did not require treatment).
Despite the encouraging findings from Missouri, since 1993 over 70 in-custody deaths have involved the use of OC spray during arrest efforts. A review of 30 such deaths occurring in 13 states and another of 26 deaths occurring in California found that positional asphyxia (usually associated with hog-tying the arrestee), drug intoxication (with ethanol, cocaine, methamphetamine, or phencyclidine), pre-existing cardiovascular or respiratory disease, obesity, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and other conditions caused or contributed to almost all deaths. Exposure to OC spray was not judged to be a precipitating cause in any case, but its use before death was not mentioned in 10 of the California cases, and there is concern that its potential role was not adequately considered in some of the others. A 1993 death in North Carolina (a 24-year-old man with pre-existing florid bronchiolitis/bronchitis and cardiomegaly found at autopsy) was attributed to "asphyxia due to bronchospasm precipitated by pepper spray" by the attending pathologist and the NC Chief Medical Examiner.