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Pepper spray irritates eyes briefly

By Lauren Allen
Around the Town Editor

David McGee
Staff Writer        

Twice in two months campus police have used pepper spray to stop fights.            

Pepper spray is a chemical compound that irritates the eyes causing tears, pain and temporary blindness.

Unlike the irritants MACE or tear gas, pepper spray is an inflammatory agent. Contact with eyes, nose, throat and lungs causes immediate dilation of capillaries.

This causes temporary blindness and instant inflammation of the breathing tube tissues and systematically cuts off all but life support breathing.             

Pepper spray will cause no lasting after effects, but can last up to an hour.

According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, it is used in riot control, crowd control and self defense.             

The American Civil Liberties Union says they  have documented 14 fatalities from the use of pepper spray.                  

According to the “General Order Use of Force” for campus police, use of pepper spray is permitted when officers feel as though the situation has deteriorated or will soon reach a point where  force is necessary. 

Officers are allowed to use  it  in order to reduce injury.


Side effects                                       
The encyclopedia says victims should be checked for signs or symptoms of serious distress such as cardiac or respiratory problems beyond those typically associated with spray exposure.            

Most patients will recover completely in an hour or less.

All exposed skin and mucous membranes should be flushed with large amounts of cool water to help soothe the burning sensation and flush away any residual  lingering spray.            

People wearing soft contacts should  throw them away or clean them. Asthmatics  should be closely monitored or receive immediate attention.

                         Patients should not rub affected areas to prevent spreading the spray.            
Washing the face and eyelids with a mild, oil-free soap breaks down the oily resin, speeding up its removal.

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Updated: Friday, December 8, 2006
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