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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201975 Find in a Library
Title: Science of Pepper Spray
Journal: Law and Order  Volume:51  Issue:7  Dated:July 2003  Pages:124-130
Author(s): Christopher Reilly
Date Published: July 2003
Page Count: 7
Type: Instructional Material; Report (Technical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article provides detailed descriptions of pepper spray products available to law enforcement personnel, summarizes the findings of recent studies on these products as used by law enforcement personnel, and specifies criteria that should be considered when selecting which pepper spray products to use.
Abstract: The vast majority of pepper spray devices are prepared by using Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), the concentrated oil obtained from extraction of "hot" peppers. This extract is also the source for high concentrations of the capsaicinoids, the bioactive chemicals in pepper spray devices that provide the irritant and pain-producing properties characteristic of pepper spray products. The extent and severity of reactions to being sprayed are related to the amount of capsaicinoids delivered to the subject. There are many factors that can influence the performance and safety of pepper spray devices, including the strength and characteristics of the capsaicinoid solution, as well as the efficiency and accuracy of the delivery of the spray. Recent research has shown significant variability in the concentrations of capsaicinoids in OC-based pepper spray products. The variation in concentration along with differences in delivery mechanisms among pepper spray manufacturers are factors that should be considered when selecting a pepper spray for officer use; however, until adequate field and laboratory research is performed, it is unrealistic to provide precise recommendations for specific product details. The general recommendations offered in this article are to be familiar with the pepper spray device being considered under a variety of environmental conditions by using each product in multiple training and test-fire sessions; to consistently use the same product from the same manufacturer after it has displayed satisfactory performance; and to use only products that are labeled with all components, most importantly the absolute concentration of capsaicinoids or nonivamide.
Main Term(s): Police weapons
Index Term(s): Chemical irritants; Less lethal technologies; Oleoresin Capsicum (OC)/Pepper Spray
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