Although pepper spray is often considered synonymous with mace and tear gas, the three terms actually all have varying meanings and different active ingredients. The substances that go into commercially available pepper spray can be much more dangerous than the manufacturers have previously disclosed, as numerous scientific studies over the last several years have concluded.
Knowing what goes into pepper spray can be crucial to understanding exactly what may have caused your severe reaction to it, and this information could benefit your lawsuit against a negligent manufacturer. A pepper spray injury attorney can help explain the elements of pepper spray in great detail during an initial consultation.
Active Ingredients in Pepper Spray
Unlike tear gas, which is based around nerve agent compounds like Alphachloroacetaphenone (CN) and Orthochlorobenzalmalonitrile (CS), the active ingredient in pepper spray is Capsaicin, which is derived from pepper plants.
Regardless of the name, pepper spray is an inflammatory agent, which means it has a physical effect on people exposed to it rather than just a painful one caused by stimulus to the nervous system. Capsaicin causes immediate and severe swelling in the body’s mucous membranes, most notably those in the nose, eyes, mouth, and lungs. The target’s eyes usually close involuntarily, and the effect on the lungs can cause coughing, choking, and even incapacitated breathing for up to 45 minutes after exposure. It may also result in mention painful burning sensations in exposed areas of skin.
While repeated exposure to tear gas can actually help individuals build up an immunity to the substance, pepper spray works almost instantly on almost everyone. However, while pepper spray’s main effects usually wear off after no more than an hour, there are also some risks of more severe complications that manufacturers have historically failed to disclose.
Studies on Pepper Spray’s Long-Term Effects
In 2018, a police trainee who was exposed to pepper spray as part of a training exercise collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. Medical personnel had to use a defibrillator, epinephrine and various transfusions, and perform CPR for over half an hour before they managed to restart the trainee’s heart, and he remained hospitalized for several weeks afterwards.
According to his medical report, exposure to capsaicin was the direct cause of his arrhythmia. However, the manufacturer of the pepper spray used in the training exercise gave no warning that this was a possible effect their product could have, and as a result, a young police officer almost died from his heart stopping, but now suffers from a permanent brain injury as a result of the lack of oxygen to his brain.
A Lawyer May Be Able to Help with Your Pepper Spray Injury Case
Anyone who suffered severe damage to their health from pepper spray exposure may have grounds for a civil case, whether the health issue involves heart problems, a severe allergic reaction, or any other long-term health complications. Product manufacturers have a duty to warn consumers of all known risks associated with their products, and they should be held civilly liable for any injuries that their failure to do so causes. To learn more about what goes into pepper spray and whether you may be able to file suit, contact a pepper spray injury lawyer today.