Around the world the police have a large Arsenal of tools to suppress protests and riot control. In the Arab countries over the past 10 years we have seen the use of tear gas to disperse on the streets of demonstrators. In several Western States for this purpose also use pepper spray. Whether it’s tear gas, pepper spray or pepper balls — all of these tools have something in common. They are chemical weapons.
During the recent protests in the United States that broke out after the murder of an African American George Floyd, American police are actively used pepper spray. Striking example are the events in Washington, where the dispersed protesters in a public Park to President Donald trump could get from the White house to the nearest Church and stage a photo shoot.
Along with the United States over the past few weeks you probably saw in the media the use of these funds and in other regions of the world, for example, in Sydney, Australia. Local police also used pepper spray on the Central subway station after the protests, held under the slogan Black lives matter. Among other things, tear gas used for riot control in the prison long Bay in Australia, where the prison guard is thrown on the training ground tear-gas grenades. Among the victims were residents of nearby houses.
At the same time, U.S. attorney General William Barr stated that the police did not use tear gas. According to him, it was pepper spray that are not chemical irritant. However, it seems that the chemical experts have a different opinion: pepper spray is a strong irritant, but also chemical weapons.
What’s inside pepper spray?
The active compound in pepper spray known as “capsaicinoids”. The spray contains the abbreviation OC (“Oleoresin Capsicum”), which means “red pepper”. The most important chemical ingredient in OC is capsaicin, derived from hot red peppers by chemical process using a solvent.
Capsaicin is the substance responsible for the pungency of pepper, the chemical irritant for mammals, including humans, causing a burning sensation in any tissue with which it contacts. This substance is found in red peppers and is designed to repel certain mammals. Capsaicin and its related compounds are called capsaicinoids.
Capsaicin is produced not only in a natural way. One of its analogs called “nonivamid” (also known as vanililamid pelargonii acid or a BANK), which is mainly produced by people in laboratories and not found in nature. BANK is a strong irritant and is contained in pepper spray. So, without a doubt, it really is chemical substances.
“Tear gas” — unofficial and not entirely accurate term, because it is not gas. Usually it mean the weapon used to paralyze people. In particular, “tear gas” is often called a chemical irritant that razbryzgivayut in the air. They can be in the form of liquid sprays or powder form (for example, in percovich balls). Thus, this definition includes even sprays that carry a woman in self-defense.
The tear gas canisters usually contain irritants called chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS) and vinyl chloride (CN). Both of these chemicals were created by man in the laboratory, in contrast to capsaicin (traditional content pepper spray).
Despite the fact that capsaicin is extracted from hot peppers, pepper spray is a chemical weapon that can be produced in the form of aerosols or powder. Therefore, it should be clearly identified as tear gas.
The danger percovich cartridges and tear gas
Pepper spray and tear gas to act on the mucosa almost immediately: they cause tears, coughing, man ceases to see and barely breathe. In other words, they immobilize and blind people. In addition, these substances act on the nerve receptors, causing a strong burning sensation. Together, the effects of pepper spray can last from 15 minutes to over an hour, although eye irritation and redness can last up to 24 hours.
At short-term and frequent exposure to the irritant unlikely to cause irreversible harm. However, there is some evidence that such harm is possible as a result of exposure to these substances in high doses over a long period of time. Overall, at the moment there are too few data obtained during research on humans. Most of the available information is relevant to vulnerable and marginalized groups.
The journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science published a study whose authors concluded that single exposure of the OS on the eyes harmless, but repeated exposure can lead to long-term changes of corneal sensitivity. The study was not revealed long-term decline of visual acuity. However, for those who suffers from asthma is taking any drugs associated with breathing, or is experiencing airway obstruction, there is a risk of death.
According to scientists, exposure to pepper spray is stronger than tear gas, including temporary blindness which lasts from 15 to 30 minutes, and a burning sensation in the skin lasting for 45 to 60 minutes. It is also spasms in the upper body forcing the person to bend at the waist, and uncontrollable cough, when the person is breathing with difficulty or is unable to speak for 3 to 15 minutes.
In the study in 1993, the U.S. military came to the conclusion that pepper spray can have carcinogenic effects, cause problems with the cardiovascular system and lungs. In addition, it is inherent neurotoxicity. However, despite warnings from us experts, the use of pepper spray was widely approved in the United States.
Tear gas in times of a pandemic
What some people don’t know is what is the impact of chemical irritant during the spread of the coronavirus. As the tear gas irritates the lungs, and covid-19 is basically a respiratory disease, currently there is doubt about the application of these stimuli, and also questions whether they increase the likelihood of Contracting the virus.
Since the coronavirus responsible for the current pandemic is a new virus, in our history there is no precedent that would indicate to us, increases the impact of tear gas our chances or not. If the effects of tear gas briefly exposed to him were initially healthy, and the irritation passes quickly, it is reasonable to assume that the probability of infection does not increase. Nevertheless, evidence for this hypothesis we have.
Pepper spray and tear gas is a chemical weapon
Chemical irritants such as OC, CS and CN have military designations because they are chemical weapons. They are called “less-lethal”, as less dangerous than conventional weapons. Despite this, their use can lead to death. Technically, pepper spray and other tear gases are classified as a means of acting on the mucous membranes of the eyes and respiratory system.
Tear gas appeared on the battlefields during the First world war. Artillery shells were filled with chemical substances such as celelbrated and chloroacetone, and they fired at the enemy soldiers. The substances that cause suffocation, ulceration and vomiting have also been added with the escalation of the race of chemical weapons.
In the 1920-ies was adopted the Geneva Protocol on the prohibition of the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other similar gases and of bacteriological methods of warfare. Today is the unjustified use of chemical agents for riot control is threatening to undermine the regime, designed to protect us from the most dangerous types of chemical weapons.
International Convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons of 1993, as the Geneva Protocol, prohibits the use of tear gas during military action. However, a number of countries, including the United States, approved the use of tear gas for riot control and control of civilians on its territory.