Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Pepper spray is a non-lethal chemical agent which is used in riot control, crowd control and personal self-defense. The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, including chiles. Pepper spray is also known as OC spray (from "Oleoresin Capsicum") or OC gas. Long term effects of pepper spray have not been effectively researched or published.
The scoville rating for pepper spray can be as high as 5,300,000 for police grade and much lower for civilian grade. Generic grade OC spray found in most stores measures about 2,000,000 scoville heat units. However, police grade pepper spray is available to civilians.
In the UK, where it is classed as an offensive weapon, the sale and possession of pepper spray is illegal.
In Washington, DC, possession of pepper spray must be registered with the DC Police.
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