According to HowStuffWorks, the effects of bear spray on humans include temporary blindness, breathing difficulty, swelling of the face, burning eyes and lungs, swollen mucous membranes and nasal irritation. Bear spray contains capsaicin, the same ingredient in human defensive pepper sprays. Bear spray does not cause permanent injury to humans or bears.
Sabre Security Equipment Corporation explains that the most common effects of pepper spray on humans are coughing, dry eyes, hyperventilation, shortness of breath, nasal discharge, eye closure, high blood pressure, anxiety and numbness. In addition to bear and human defense sprays, capsaicin is a common ingredient in muscle rub creams that work to temporary relieve pain by numbing the affected area.
According to UDAP Industries, creators of Pepper Power bear spray, the specific potency of pepper spray depends on the level of active ingredients in each product. Bear deterrents have a spray range of up to 30 feet and contain between 1.0 and 2.0 percent of active CRC, a compound derived from hot chili peppers.
The Pepper Spray store explains that human pepper spray typically contains approximately 1.33 percent active CRC. While the CRC levels are in the same range, the main difference between human defense pepper spray and bear spray is that bear pepper spray must first be tested and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the products are humane.