Less Lethal Aerosol Devices

Two new standards developed by ASTM International’s homeland security applications committee (E54) will help evaluate and certify the performance of less lethal aerosol devices used by law enforcement, corrections, and other public safety officers.

First, a new specification (E3187/E3187M) defines performance requirements and test methods to help evaluate chemical irritant sprays, such as pepper spray. Second, a practice (E3215) defines requirements for certification of such products to E3187/E3187M.

Sergeant Nick Roberts of the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake, and an ASTM International member, explains the need for these standards. “Law enforcement and corrections officers sometimes need to take actions that are governed by use-of-force protocols,” says Roberts. “Less lethal devices give officers an alternative to using options that potentially are more dangerous to both officers and the public.” In addition to protecting officers and the public, notes Roberts, the new standards set parameters preventing carcinogen solvents and other harmful additives from being used. 

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ASTM International member Casandra Robinson, physical scientist for the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) explains that until now there have been no baseline performance requirements for less lethal aerosol devices and no standardized methods for evaluating their performance. She says the new standards set baseline performance and testing requirements and facilitate certification of products, which will result in increased reliability and safety for officers and citizens.

Trish Knudson, reserve officer with the Phoenix Police Department and chair of the ASTM International operational equipment subcommittee, believes that developing less lethal device standards will help to address issues that officers have experienced in the past and will provide them with greater confidence that these products will perform as expected in their field.

ASTM is currently developing new standards for other less lethal devices and welcomes participation in the development of these standards. Become a member of ASTM. The next meeting of ASTM International’s homeland security applications committee is Feb. 3-5, 2020, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

To purchase standards, contact ASTM International customer relations (tel +1.877.909.ASTM; sales@astm.org).

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