Pepper spray, or OC spray (from “oleoresin capsicum”), is a lachrymatory agent, a chemical compound irritating the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness. Considered a less-than-lethal control option, it has been deadly in rare cases.
According to Dr. Gregory Smith, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, UNC School of Public Health and Chair, NCMS Occupational and Environmental Health Committee:-
“The ill effects of OC. Dermal exposure to OC spray causes tingling, intense burning pain, swelling, redness, and, occasionally, blistering (capsaicin alone causes redness and pain, but not vesiculation). A severe dermatitis, called “human hand”, is found in people who process chili peppers in Mexico. Capsaicin amplifies inflammation by releasing substance P from the skin and nasal mucosa. Multiple exposures of skin or mucous membranes over a period of seconds or minutes exaggerate the response. Capsaicin augments allergic sensitization and worsens allergic dermatitis. Exposure may diminish sensitivity to heat-or-chemical-induced pain, thus increasing the risk and severity of skin burns. Capsaicin powerfully stimulates heat receptors, causing reflex sweating and vasodilation, and activates hypothalamus-mediated cooling; this dual effect increases the risk of hypothermia if victims are decontaminated with cold water on cold days”
These effects assume pepper spray is used as recommended by the manufacturer. Brennan on the other hand was attacked by a group of guards using a concentrated form of OC (see Just Another Day on the Range? The Guigue Summary posted Sept. 26/14). These men didn’t use hand-held dispensers, but instead a heavy canister with a hose and spray nozzle. The entire rear of his naked body was “painted”, and the aerosol spray in the air came into contact with much of the rest of his unprotected skin.
If any of us were to do this, we’d be charged with a number of indictable Criminal Code offenses, possibly even attempted murder. Be reminded that Brennan Guigue cannot be the only victim of such treatment by our public servants for one, and two, we are responsible for their behaviour.
Last month’s April 17th posting, “…now we have the names”, under the Justice for Brennan Guigue banner was important, given how much the forty pages of printed material submitted by Correctional Service of Canada reveals, and in spite of how much more was withheld (see Material/Evidence Requested from CSC, Nov. 2/14), and for which we continue to press CSC to release.