Have you ever seen little canisters, about two and a half inches long, discarded on the ground?
When I first joined Litter-Free Pudsey in 2016, we would only stumble across these canisters occasionally. I wondered what they were but never really looked into it.
Lately, we are not “stumbling” across them, they seem to be discarded on many streets and in our parks in Pudsey. We need to put a stop to it.
These are Nitrous Oxide canisters – and they are being inhaled as a drug. They are dangerous – but the dangers are often misunderstood and minimised.
The user inhales the gas, usually after pumping in to a balloon because it gives them more control of the gas and warms it up. This gas does not give a “high” as other substance abuse does, instead it causes a head rush or a “floating feeling” – it can cause laughter (hence the tag laughing gas) or dizziness, but it isn’t the same high as that of other common recreational drugs.
So what are the side effects? Well here is the science. Major concern has to be the immediate drop in vitamin B12 – I can hear you yawning already.
But immediate drops in vitamin B12 cause nerve damage, or even paralysis. High doses can cause life-threatening effects, including seizure, coma and sudden sniffing death syndrome – when the heart stops beating.
And in addition to all this, people have also been know to choke on vomit or experienced accidental injuries while under the influence.
Nitrous oxide is prevalent throughout our local area – the only way to avoid the risk is a change to legislation. It is already illegal to sell them for recreational highs. But as it is so cheap to buy, and as sales are not restricted if they are for purposes such as catering, then it is very difficult to prosecute. And cases have failed in court because of this legislative loophole.
Yeah, sure, we all know of that Aunt, Grandma and cousin’s husbands’ great-uncle who smoked all his life and lived until the rip old age of 120, and this isn’t about stopping all substance abuse it’s about educating our children to the effects of abuse. If this reaches just one person who thinks twice, then it is worth it.
Please sign and share the petition and let’s help get the legislation changed. And please, talk to your children about the risks of these seemingly harmless little canisters. (Even if you’ve already signed – share!)
Let’s get them off our streets!
- Dawn Seary, Pudsey