Canned air is the new cheap inhalant, but it can cause severe damage and even death. NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander reports
Inhalant abuse has been on the rise nationwide, and more teens are experiencing the tragic effects of this cheap high. NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander reports on how a common household product, a computer cleaner, can result in a deadly high.
There's a new way to get high, and you could have it right next to your desk at home. They're designed to clean your computer but, if inhaled, these popular products have the potential to kill.
It’s called "dusting" — the term comes from the cleaning brand "Dust Off" — and it has become a teenager’s new cheap and easily accessible high, despite a warning on the side of each canister.
This form of inhalant abuse, “huffing,” has been around for years, but dusting is the more specific term associated with the use of cans of any common aerosolized computer keyboard cleaner that contains compressed gas.
One teen, 18-year-old Jessie Stotz, is now in rehab at the Pathway Family Center in Indianapolis because of dusting.
"There wasn't the hassle of finding somebody to buy it for you and stuff, you could walk into a store, being 13 years old, and buy it yourself," says Stotz.
But one hit can be crippling, as 15-year-old Ben Goudberg experienced in California.
"I couldn't move for three to four minutes, and I was staring at a door thinking I wanted to get up and go and touch it and I couldn't do it," says Goudberg. "It's one of the scariest feelings in the world."
The high from the gas paralyzes the user for several minutes and gives a feeling of euphoria. Both dusting and huffing can result in damage to the brain, lungs, heart, kidneys and liver, and can cause death. In computer cleaning products, a freon type of gas, or fluorinated hydrocarbon, is the dangerous ingredient.
The dangerous practice was dramatized in the film "Thirteen." In the opening scene, the two actresses are sitting on a bed, "dusting," and then slapping each other out of their trancelike states.
"Sudden sniffing death" describes the process of inhaled hydrocarbons provoking irregular heart rhythms in the victim, which leads to sudden fatal cardiac arrest in even very young and healthy hearts.
"Just that fast a kid could experience intoxication," says John Daily, a drug counselor at New Directions — and just that fast they could die. The compressed air in the cleaners fills a person's lungs, keeping oxygen out and potentially stopping the heart.
Some retailers, like Staples and Wal-Mart, now restrict the sales of computer cleaners to buyers over 18 years of age, and many have placed warning labels on the top of cans.
But Jeff Williams, a Cleveland police officer whose son Kyle tragically died in March while trying dusting, thinks more needs to be done. Williams says there is already one keyboard cleaning product on the market that adds a bitter smell and taste to the chemicals, making them unpalatable, and he says all manufacturers should do the same. Williams also thinks that retailers need to do a better job of policing who they sell to.
Dusting is part of a larger problem involving inhalants, with huffing on the rise. In 2002, more than a million people abused them for the first time — the vast majority in their teens.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that inhalant experimentation is initiated earlier than any other illicit substance, with young females starting before young males. Also, a higher percentage of 12 and 13 year olds had used inhalants than marijuana.
Inhalant abuse is often more dangerous and difficult to detect than other drug abuse. Inhalants such as glue, lighter fluid and spray paint are completely legal and found in every home — which often leads kids to think they are harmless — and abusers need to conceal only the act of inhaling, not the product.
But inhalants are addictive physically and psychologically, almost as much as alcohol.
"Not only was it the inhalant that was addictive, it was the lifestyle, the friends and the attention that I would receive when I did it," says Jessie Stotz.
But in the deadly new world of dusting, someone's first time seeking the high may also be their last.
In the United Kingdom, where deaths associated with these substances are tracked, 39 percent of the deaths occurred during the victim's first time.
Wolfe says the most important way to combat this drug abuse is to educate parents about it and to inform kids that the inhalants can kill them on the first try.
Other prevention methods include reading product labels regarding safety issues, and choosing to minimize aerosols in households by using pump sprays instead.
The warning signs of dusting are not easily detected, but these signs may indicate abuse:
* Disappearance of the product at a rapid rate
* Empty cans or containers of chemicals in trash cans
* Large stashes of a chemical product in the child’s room
* Strange smells on or around a child
* Residue of the product on a child's clothing or face
* Complaints of numbness of the tongue, vocal chords or throat
* Dazed looks or bloodshot eyes
Wolfe suggests that if parents suspect inhalant abuse, they should take their child for a drug and alcohol assessment before it is too late.
So, that's why they asked for an ID from me when I bought some compressed air at Walmart for my computer this weekend.
Its teens like these who makes our world stupider everyday.
Anything below this statement isn't part of the post I just made.
Past Phones: Nokia 3390, 6010, 6133, 5310, X2-02
Motorola v635, SLVR, v300
ATT Fuze, HTC Evo 3D
Samsung Galaxy 4G
My mom sent me an email today about what happened with the officer's kid.
Originally Posted by Lannie's Mom Sheryl
I always check out warnings such as this on the Urban Legends website (www.snopes.com). More often than not, the warnings are "old-wives' tales" or highly exaggerated. This one, unfortunately, appears to be 100% true.
If you have children or grandchildren, PLEASE read this officer's story carefully.
First I'm going to tell you a little about me and my family. My name is Jeff. I am a Police Officer for a city which is known nationwide for its crime rate. We have a lot of gangs and drugs. At one point we were # 2 in the nation in homicides per capita. I also have a police K-9 named Thor. He was certified in drugs and general duty. He retired at 3 years old because he was shot in the line of duty. He lives with us now and I still train with him because he likes it. I always liked the fact that there was no way to bring drugs into my house. Thor wouldn't allow it. He would tell on you. The reason I say this is so you understand that I know about drugs. I have taught in schools about drugs. My wife asks all our kids at least once a week if they used any drugs. Makes them promise they won't.
I like building computers occasionally and started building a new one in
February 2005. I also was working on some of my older computers. They were full of dust so on one of my trips to the computer store I bought a 3 pack of DUST OFF. Dust Off is a can of compressed air to blow dust off a computer. A few weeks later when I went to use one of them they were all used. I talked to my kids and my two sons both said they had used them on their computer and messing around with them. I yelled at them for wasting the 10 dollars I paid for them. On February 28 I went back to the computer store. They didn't have the 3 pack which I had bought on sale so I bought a single jumbo can of Dust Off. I went home and set it down beside my computer.
On March 1st, I left for work at 10 PM. Just before midnight my wife went down and kissed Kyle goodnight. At 530 am the next morning Kathy went downstairs to wake Kyle up for school, before she left for work.
He was propped up in bed with his legs crossed and his head leaning over. She called to him a few times to get up. He didn't move. He would sometimes tease her like this and pretend he fell back asleep. He was never easy to get up. She went in and shook his arm. He fell over. He was pale white and had the straw from the Dust Off can coming out of his mouth. He had the new can of Dust Off in his hands. Kyle was dead.
I am a police officer and I had never heard of this. My wife is a nurse and she had never heard of this. We later found out from the coroner, after the autopsy, that only the propellant from the can of Dust off was in his system. No other drugs. Kyle had died between midnight and 1AM.
I found out that using Dust Off is being done mostly by kids ages 9 through 15. They even have a name for it. It's called dusting. A take off from the Dust Off name. It gives them a slight high for about 10 seconds. It makes them dizzy. A boy who lives down the street from us showed Kyle how to do this about a month before. Kyle showed his best friend. Told him it was cool and it couldn't hurt you. It's just compressed air. It can't hurt you. His
best friend said no.
Kyle was wrong. It's not just compressed air. It also contains a propellant called R2. Its a refrigerant like what is used in your refrigerator. It is a heavy gas. Heavier than air. When you inhale it, it fills your lungs and keeps the good air, with oxygen, out. That's why you feel dizzy, buzzed. It decreases the oxygen to your brain, to your heart. Kyle was right. It can't hurt you. IT KILLS YOU.
The horrible part about this is there is no warning. There is no level that kills you. It's not cumulative or an overdose; it can just go randomly, terribly wrong. Roll the dice and if your number comes up you die. IT'S NOT AN OVERDOSE. Its Russian Roulette. You don't die later. Or not feel good and say I've had too much. You usually die as you're breathing it in. If not, you die within 2 seconds of finishing "the hit." That's why the straw was still in Kyle's mouth, when he died. Why his eye's were still open. The experts want to call this huffing. The kids don't believe it's huffing.
As adults, we tend to lump many things together But it doesn't fit here. And that's why its more accepted. There is no chemical reaction. No strong odor. It doesn't follow the huffing signals. Kyle complained a few days before he died of his tongue hurting. It probably did. The propellant causes frostbite. If I had only known.
Its easy to say hey, its my life and I'll do what I want. But it isn't. Others are always effected. This has forever changed our family's life. I have a hole in my heart and soul that can never be fixed. The pain is so immense I cant describe it. There's nowhere to run from it. I cry all the time and I don't ever cry. I do what I'm supposed to do; but I don't really care. My kids are messed up. One won't talk about it. The other will only sleep in our room at night. And my wife,I cant even describe how bad she is taking this. I thought we were safe because of Thor. I thought we were safe because we knew about drugs and talked to our kids about them.
After Kyle died, another story came out. A Probation Officer went to the school system next to ours to speak with a student. While there, he found a student using Dust Off in the bathroom. This student told him about another student, who also had some in his locker. This is a rather affluent school system. They will tell you they don't have a drug problem there. They don't even have a dare or plus program there. So rather than tell everyone about this "new" way of getting high they found, they hid it. The probation officer told the media after Kyle's death and they, the school, then admitted to it. I know that if they would have told the media and I had heard, it wouldn't have been in my house.
We need to get this out of our homes and school computer labs. Using Dust Off isn't new and some "professionals" do know about. It just isn't talked about much, except by the kids. They all seem to know about it.
April 2nd was 1 month since Kyle died. April 5th would have been his 15th birthday. And every weekday I catch myself sitting on the living room couch at 2:30 in the afternoon and waiting to see him get off the bus. I know Kyle is in heaven; but I can't help but wonder If I died and went to Hell. This Officer is asking for everyone who receives this email to forward it to everyone in their address book, even Law Enforcement Officers.
Yes but that's how it is! The problem is that they don't want to get out of the "reservations", they are raised told that the "white man" is evil and how he corrupts children and all. They fear to be assimilated, what is happening in fact is that their leaders are keeping them in the reservations to make more money and receive more benefits from the government. We francophones havn't been assimilated despite the fact the France abandonned us to rot here for over 200 years ago, the some of our ancestors were killed by the British army or our capital reduced to ashes under the orders of queen Victoria and we are the only ones obstinate enough to be 6.4 million speakers of french in a continent with 317,6 million speakers of english (or 24 mill in Canada to be fair, 1996 statistics).
So why don't they get off and do something, my great great grandfather was a farmer, his son a dairy farmer, my grandfather worked insane hours to pay to become a MD (AND he paid for one of his brothers to become an optometrist and the other a Cegep teacher), my mother had to do a first BAC to then be ACCEPTED in uni to start her MD courses an I worked to get accepted in a chool where they take 20 students per session, some people even apply from France to come here damnit!
What do we hear from THEM? They do "traditionnal" whale hunting with GUNS (traditionnal my ***), they smuggle cigarettes and sell them on the reservation so they don't pay taxes, they illegally host gambling crap like goldenpalace on their reservations, they smuggle millitary small arms, they build houses in protected fauna zones, they stop the wood industry from harvesting (and replanting) trees from "their territory", we poured and poured millions of dollars to their communities to help them (some say "compensate" who the **** compensated MY family when the British hanged MY ancestors and burned their house? My OWN family that's who.), we agree to move their village "on the white man's bill" to help them be in a safer and more prosper area and they do NOTHING to help their own gas sniffing children.
...Sorry for the rant...
I'm not inherently a bad person nor do I actually "resent" my fellow canadians (the government that's another story), my girlfriend is an anglophone from Winnipeg, my english is somewhat passable but I can't stand having *******s leeching off the government to do illegal work, get drunk, drugged or gamble the money away. I have a good friend who's a cree so I know who they are and how they do work hard when they are outside so don't get me wrong here either. If I offended anyone I am sorry but walk a mile in my shoes, while they are very comfy they cost me alot and still have a few thorns in them...
Hey, dont joke arround about that, There was a time a few years ago, when i was younger working in the supermarkets where some co-worker reportedly got high off the nitrous gas that comes out of the aerosol whip cream cans when theyre first opened/sprayed. I knew the kid who did that, I also saw him do it and observed how he got his "high" I dont recommend it, and think its pretty stupid getting high off the gas from a whipped cream aerosol can.