So if a habenero comes in at 350,000 Scoville units, where does Pepper Spray come in? Deborah Blum says:

It’s listed at between 2 million and 5.3 million Scoville units. The lower number refers to the kind of pepper spray that you and I might be able to purchase for self-protective uses. And the higher number? It’s the kind of spray that police use, the super-high dose given in the orange-colored spray used at UC-Davis.

Not only that, but there are very real, known, health risks associated with Pepper Spray:

The more worrisome effects have to do with inhalation – and by some reports, California university police officers deliberately put OC spray down protestors throats. Capsaicins inflame the airways, causing swelling and restriction. And this means that pepper sprays pose a genuine risk to people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

And by genuine risk, I mean a known risk, a no-surprise any police department should know this risk, easy enough to find in the scientific literature.

This post, if this stuff outrages you, is well worth the read.

I have only seen the effects of Pepper Spray once, when my roommate went through Campus Security training in College. They volunteered to be sprayed so that they could actually carry the spray. They were sprayed with one pass and carried to a shower where they are immediately treated. When I saw him next, an hour later, his face was still bright red and he was still very much in pain.

He was prepared and expecting to be sprayed. He had his mouth closed tightly and plugged his nose, because the Campus Security trainer knew that it would be very bad if he inhaled it.

The lackadaisical way in which the officer sprayed those students is what outrages me. How can you do this, multiple passes, to a peaceful set of protesters on a college campus in the United States. Shameful.