Author + information
Pepper sprays, mostly known as gas bombs in our country, are commonly used for suppression of social protests. Chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile (CS), Chloroacetophenone (CN) and Oleoresin capsicum (OC) are the most famous ones. The OC, mostly used in Turkey, is an oily extract obtained by grinding of hot pepper. Those agents which belong to capsaicinoid group, have pharmacological and toxic effects on cardiovascular, ocular, digestive and respiratory systems. Capsaicine has a dose dependent effect on cardiovascular system. In experimental trials, 1 mcg intravenous administration found to have a triphasic response in blood pressure(BP). After reduction of BP and heart rate, a temporary increase of BP followed by permanent BP raise, is seen. After administration of capsaicine of 50 mcg for 12 minutes, tachycardia and continuous BP raise is detected. Pepper spray has an irritative effect on skin and mucosal membranes which is taken to body by respiratory or digestive mucosas or directly from the skin. The effect starts 3-5 seconds after exposure and continues decreasingly for another 15 to 60 minutes. If exposed by respiration, some complex cardiopulmonary effects such as apnea, bradycardia, biphasic changes of BP, bronchoconstriction, respiratory mucosal edema, tachypnea, hypotension is seen.Turkish Medical Association made an assessment among people who were exposed to antipersonnel agents and detected hypertensive attacks of 137 people occured after exposure. The possibility of respiratory failure in asthmatic patients should not be forgotten. Sudden cardiac death due to bradicardia, hypotension or arrhythmia is reported. In a report prepared by American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU) 26 deaths were detected caused by pepper gas exposure. USA's medical reports hold the gas bombs and pepper gas responsible for 100 deaths in 30 years. Acute myocardial infarction due to pepper gas exposure is also stated in medical literature.
As Paracelcus said ''The dose alone makes the poison'' (Dosis Sola Facit Venenum). However the authorities claim that antipersonnel agents don't have permanent or mortal effects if used in appropriate doses, there isn't any scientific, systematic trial showing the safety of those agents. The ethical uncertainty still remains and permanent or mortal effects are still question mark. Based on the harmful effects of pepper gas, as limitless and inappropriate usage may cause major adverse events, we invite the authorities to act more carefully in future.