Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wasp Spray vs. Pepper Spray

I recently received the following email from a family member:

I have a friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area who
was concerned about someone going into the office on Monday to rob them
when they were counting the collection. She asked the local police
department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead.

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray they have to get too close to you and could overpower you.

The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the
hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would.
She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection.

My immediate thoughts while reading this email were as follows:

  1. Police only recommend products for which they have been trained.
  2. Bug sprays are poisons and are designed to KILL bugs.
  3. Products not tested for humans can lead to debilitating effects to humans.

I recently attended a Citizens Police Academy in my local community. The major goal of a Citizens' Police Academy is to increase understanding between citizens and their Police Department's operations. The academy allows a citizen to ride-along with a Police Officer during the term of the academy. The ride-along gives a citizen the opportunity to experience the daily routine of a Police Officer and to ask questions regarding police life. Several times I asked for recommendations on different products from my ride-along officer. Most of the time, the officer responded, "I am not familiar with the effects of that product and cannot make any recommendations."

The Police do not want to recommend a product unless the product has been tested and certified through their Police Department. The obvious reason for this is that they are considered an authority and can be held liable for making recommendations of products that can permanently harm an individual. This is one of the major reasons for Police departments to use a TASERR over a gun to stop a criminal. A gun can mame or kill a person while a TASERR controls the person with no after affect. By using a non-lethal weapon, the Police considerably reduce their liability.

Bug sprays are POISONS and severe irritants. Ask yourself, "Would I rather ingest poison or eat a pepper that is fifteen times hotter than the Habanero pepper? While the obvious answer is, "I would rather not do either", if given a choice you would more than likely opt for the pepper. The reason is that even though neither one of them is desirable, poisons can permanently mame or worse, kill you.

I decided to follow up my thoughts with some research. I found that snopes had an article regarding the email that I received called, "A can of wasp spray is a preferable alternative to pepper spray for protection against assailants." Basically the article points out the following information:

  1. The active ingredient in most wasp sprays are pyrethrins. Wasp sprays are not formulated to be used directly on human beings and their safety and effectiveness have not been sufficiently tested. The toxic effects of pyrethrin could potentially be much more harmful than expected.
  2. Many jurisdictions prohibit the use of any sprays for self-defense other than a pepper spray. Most spray insecticides include warnings stating that "It is a violdation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling."

Wasp sprays have active ingredients derived from nature, according to research of Pyrethrin from Cornell University. Severe poisoning from pyrethrin have been reported in infants. Infants are not able to efficiently break down pyrethrum. Animals exposed to toxic amounts may also experience symptoms of tremors, convulsions, paralysis, respiratory failure, and death. Pyrethrin, however, decomposes quickly as compared to Capsaicin, the active ingredient in pepper spray. The effectiveness of the Pepper Spray will last longer than the Wasp Spray. Pyrethrin is also extremely toxic to aquatic life especially in locations where there are warmer water temperatures.

I have taken the following excerpt from an article by The Center for Public Integrity on the regarding Pyrethrin:

Human health problems from pyrethrins account for more adverse reports than from any other class of pesticides, about one-quarter of all fatal, major and moderate human reactions in the U.S. in 2007. Reactions include skin irritation, an asthmatic attack and 50 fatalities.

Among the reactions cited:

  • The case of two-and-a-half-year-old Amber Nickol McKeown who was treated with Osco Lice Treatment Shampoo for head lice.

    The girl's chest turned red, she labored to breathe, her skin peeled off in clumps. When the hospital staff saw burns over 60 percent of her body she was in respiratory distress. Within 72 hours of her bath, she died. An autopsy showed her death was triggered by exposure to pyrethrin.

  • A 37-year-old woman who died after she gave her ...
  • A 48-year-old woman who died after using a bug spray.

The article goes on to state:

But the EPA has yet to require the stricter warning labels. Instead it warns people to stay out of rooms where aerosol bug spray has just been used.
The EPA doesn't specify whether the poisonings came from ingestion, inhalation or direct skin contact. The EPA already considers permethrin, a popular pyrethroid, a "likely carcinogen" through oral exposure.

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Actually a wasp spray is the last product that you want to use against a perpetrator. If an assailant were to take the wasp spray from you and had a lighter, the highly flammable wasp spray will turn into a blow torch.

Pepper sprays come in a variety of shapes and sizes that can shoot up to twenty feet away and are non-toxic.

Photographed above to the right, you will observe a container than looks like a bug fogger or small fire extinguisher. This container can easily sit in the open without detection of being a highly potent pepper spray. The center photograph is the "jogging weights" pepper spray. Not only can you leave them on your desk, you can also use them as a defense mechanism while out on your lunch break. To the far right is a MACER Pepper Gun. While this "gun" can give the impression of a real gun and is best concealed on a desk, it will certainly be a lot more intimidating to a crook than a can of wasp spray.

What makes the pepper spray a more effective defense tool is that the spray contains identifying dye. If the assailant is able to get out of the room, an identifying dye will keep the criminal marked for a week.

A better alternative to using a spray indoors would be a TASERR or Telescopic Stun Baton self-defense weapon. A TASERR has a range of 15' and leaves no irritating mist in the air. Another debilitating non-lethal and non-irritating weapon is a Stun Baton. Even though a Stun Baton has a shorter range, you can be assured that no one will come near you when you pull that out of your desk.

As the old adage goes, "Believe nothing of what you hear and half of what you see." My new saying is, "Believe nothing what you hear unless you can back it up with fact." In any case, whatever you decide to use, it is important to stay protected. You can never have too much personal protection.

Remy Lorenz
Managing Director
Personal Protection 4U, LLC