The Courier-Mail

High alert for gas abusers

Nitrous sniffing sparks ban from shops

- SAM PHILLIPS

SUPERMARKE­TS have removed nitrous oxide canisters from their shelves because of the alarming trend of people using the gas to get high.

Pure nitrous oxide, normally used to charge whipped cream dispensers, cuts off oxygen to the brain when inhaled, resulting in fainting and, in extreme cases, death.

Users get a euphoric high that lasts for about 20 seconds.

Similar to laughing gas, which has been used in medical procedures since the 19th century, the gas in the cartridges known colloquial­ly as “nangs” is far more potent.

Often users combine alcohol and cannabis with the nitrous oxide to give a better high.

The cartridges are cheap and readily available at most convenienc­e stores.

University of Queensland Professor and Director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Wayne Hall said inhaling large quantities had potentiall­y dire consequenc­es.

He said supermarke­ts had removed the gas cartridges from their shelves.

“In clinics, the level people inhale is typically about 33 per cent so this, being pure, is far more dangerous,’’ Prof Hall said. “It depends on how it’s being taken but if it’s inhaled directly, that’s pure nitrous and that’s very different to a controlled dose.

“There are certainly health risks associated with it and while most people see it as a pretty innocuous thing they’re getting involved with, using large quantities of it makes neurologic­al damage a possible outcome.”

The cartridges can also be bought in bulk online – a box of 400 sells for $275.

“Retailers should be aware of what’s going on. I’m sure they’re not interested in having their products abused in this sort of way as well,” Prof Hall said.

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