How potent is pepper spray? That shit can stop a bear. | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How potent is pepper spray? That shit can stop a bear.

Posted by on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 5:28 PM

See the Huffington Post slideshow on parodies of pepper spray-wielding cop Lt. John Pike.
  • See the Huffington Post slideshow on parodies of pepper spray-wielding cop Lt. John Pike.

Police officers from coast to coast have made headlines in the past few months when they have used tactics including pepper spray to subdue protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Most recently, the public turned its attention to campus police officers at the University of California-Davis who saturated the faces of seated, nonviolent protesters who were criticizing tuition increases. (See a roundup of pepper spray use at The Atlantic.)

While some public figures have understated the power of police-issue pepper sprays (It's from a vegetable, right? Nom, nom.), others are criticizing the practice and questioning its potential harmful effects.

This Scientific American guest piece has made the rounds. It explores the history of pepper spray, and answers that persevering question—just how hot is it?

According to this handy graphic that goes with Deborah Blum's story, the kind of U.S. grade pepper spray used by police is as much as 25 times hotter than a cayenne pepper, and 1,500 times hotter than a mild jalapeño.

It damages all the soft membranes it touches—your eyes, your airway, even your stomach lining, Blum writes. And yes, that shit could stop a bear. (Pepper spray for both humans and bears contain capsaicin and related capsaicinoids)

But can it kill you?

The studies are numerous. But inferring from a study cited by the National Institute of Justice (part of the U.S. Department of Justice) if you have asthma, or some other condition that causes your airway to be already narrow, pepper spray could cause life-threatening side effects.

The 2001 study, paid for by an NIJ grant, examined 63 deaths that happened in law enforcement custody, where police used pepper spray on suspects. Of those cases, two suspects who had asthma died from breathing complications after being exposed to pepper spray.

And it's not just the "spicy" components of the spray that can cause trauma. According to a 2004 study from a Duke University researcher, inhalation of high doses of some of the solvents and propellants used in pepper spray "can produce adverse cardiac, respiratory, and neurologic effects, including arrhythmias and sudden death."

Our best advice: Stay away from UC Davis police Lt. John Pike, who earned his spot in Internet infamy when he unleashed an orange spray on seated protesters, showing no mercy. The screen grab above will lead you to a Huffington Post slide show of Pike pepper spray parodies circulating the Web.

Not even the baby seals are safe.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

Police murdered MR. CLARK and got away with it. IT WON'T STOP UNTIL ALL DIRTY COPS ARE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by William Parker on Durham Police Fatally Shoot Man At New Hope Commons Shopping Center (News)

In the Montessori School of Raleigh Defendants' Answer and Affirmative Defenses to the 18 CVS 000702 case in Superior Court …

by Sam Harrison on Breaking: Nancy Errichetti, Head of the Montessori School of Raleigh, Arrested for Allegedly Aiding and Abetting Sexual Abuse (News)

Most Recent Comments

Police murdered MR. CLARK and got away with it. IT WON'T STOP UNTIL ALL DIRTY COPS ARE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by William Parker on Durham Police Fatally Shoot Man At New Hope Commons Shopping Center (News)

In the Montessori School of Raleigh Defendants' Answer and Affirmative Defenses to the 18 CVS 000702 case in Superior Court …

by Sam Harrison on Breaking: Nancy Errichetti, Head of the Montessori School of Raleigh, Arrested for Allegedly Aiding and Abetting Sexual Abuse (News)

Ingrid - the facts are coming out, you're right. But they don't support your assertions, sorry to say. Too many …

by ToWhomItMayConcern on Montessori School of Raleigh Directress Says She Was Fired for Talking to the Cops About Sexual Abuse at the School (News)

I just read this salacious thread for the first time and unfortunately found it to be overflowing with misleading information …

by Ingrid Flutter on Montessori School of Raleigh Directress Says She Was Fired for Talking to the Cops About Sexual Abuse at the School (News)

Trigger-happy Durham cops strike again.

by ruby on Durham Police Fatally Shoot Man At New Hope Commons Shopping Center (News)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation