COT/COM/COC statement on 2-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile and CS spray

The advice of the COT, COM and COC on health effects resulting from the use of CS spray as a chemical incapacitant, was sought by the Department of Health, with the support of the Home Office.

A full statement on the physical and chemical properties of the spray and the toxicological data on 2-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (CS), on the solvent, methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK), and on CS spray itself can be downloaded from this site. It incorporates the conclusions of each of the three Committees.

It was noted that there are considerable data available to assess the toxicity of CS itself, and to a lesser extent, the solvent MIBK itself. There were no concerns relating to the mutagenicity, carcinogenicity or teratogenicity of CS itself. There was no evidence of mutagenicity or teratogenicity of MIBK. It was considered that the available data did not, in general, raise concerns regarding the health effects of CS spray itself. However, there are very few data on the formulated material.

Concerns were expressed that certain groups of the population, comprising individuals with bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and those suffering from hypertension or other cardiovascular disease, might be particularly susceptible to the effects of CS spray. Because the medical status of those exposed to CS spray is unlikely to be known at the time of exposure it was considered important that operational guidelines for the use of the spray should be adhered to.

It was recommended that follow-up studies be carried out on individuals treated for the immediate effects of CS spray in order to obtain data on whether delayed effects occur.