11 students sent to hospital after pepper spray mistaken for perfume

Twelve students at a high school in Taichung City were affected, and 11 sought medical treatment, after one student picked up a can of aerosol pepper spray and sprayed it in the air, thinking it was a perfume or body deodorant.

According to reports, shortly before noon on Friday (November 26), two male students at Sanguang Junior High School started playing with a can of “body protection” spray a female student had left in the classroom.

Mistaking the product as a body deodorant or perfume, the boys egged each other on to spray some into the air. Other students gathered around, perhaps curious to get a whiff. However, after spraying the product 12 students suffered irritated eyes and throats.

The school nurse attended to the students. Three of the most seriously affected were sent to hospital by ambulance, and another eight were driven to clinics by car. None of the students were seriously injured, and they all returned to school later in the day.

School administrators said that they will strengthen education about such products, and the Education Bureau said that pepper spray is classed as a dangerous product and is not allowed to be brought to schools.

Hong Dongrong, director of the Department of Toxicology of the China Medical Association, said that the ingredients of the sprays vary from brand to brand, and most of them contain irritating substances such as capsaicin. If affected, rinse with running water, and avoid rubbing your eyes. If used in an enclosed space, immediately open the windows and doors or go outside to breathe fresh air.

Pictures used in some media reports and a perusal of products on online shopping sites in Taiwan show that some brands of pepper spray marketed as “body protection” could easily be confused as “body deodorant.”

The products are marketed mostly to females as “anti-wolf” spray to protect against sexual assault.

pepper spray in pretty pink can
A brand of pepper spray marketed in Taiwan. Picture from online shopping site PCHome.
Pepper spray marketed on shopping site Shopee.tw.
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