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Pepper Spray Hazardous

The July 2, 1994, issue of the Seattle Times reported that troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will no longer be sprayed with pepper spray as part of their training. The change in policy came after patrol Lt. Harold Frear filed a complaint with the Florida state Labor Department. As part of the FHP's training, troopers were sprayed with the pepper spray to be familiar with its effects. When sprayed onto a person's face, the chemical burns the skin and causes temporary blindness. It takes between 10 to 15 minutes to recover from the spray, which contains a hot pepper extract and other chemicals.

Frear's lawyer said that the FHP doesn't known enough about the long term effects of the pepper spray and that troopers shouldn't be blasted with it. According to Labor Department officials who investigated Frear's complaint, the spray contains hazardous chemicals and at least four troopers sprayed with the chemical suffered injuries serious enough to require medical attention.

Readers will note that while troopers will no longer be sprayed, they will still have the chemical and be able to spray citizens. Chemical agents are routinely used against prisoners by prison officials. Prisoners exposed to such agents may want to consider researching the spray used and if it contains hazardous chemicals they may be able to present an eighth amendment claim for its use. The manufacturer would also be liable for marketing a hazardous product likely to be misused. PLN is interested in articles on litigation challenging the use of chemical agents in and out of prison.

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