A NEW campaign has been launched to clamp down on the use of “laughing gas”.
When inhaled, nitrous oxide can cause fainting, nerve damage and heart attacks, and police and council officials said it was especially risky when mixed with alcohol.
Prolonged use can cause a range of long-term health problems, such as anaemia and serious nerve damage, sometimes leading to numbness in the fingers and toes.
The canisters used to dispense the gas are also discarded in their hundreds on the streets and in beauty spots, with social media users in several areas around Rotherham having reported coming across the silver bullet-shaped empties.
A new public information campaign by Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police aims to highlight the dangers of taking in the gas and the offences committed in supplying them for human consumption.
Cllr Emma Hoddinott, Rotherham Council’s cabinet member for waste, roads and community safety, said: “Residents have been raising concerns about lots of little silver capsules strewn across car parks and parks.
“These nitrous oxide gas capsules are not just causing a lot of litter but could be causing serious harm to those people who are inhaling the contents.
“We are hearing stories of young people in the UK becoming paralysed as a result of inhaling this gas.”
Anne Charlesworth, public health lead for drug misuse in Rotherham, said: “Nitrous oxide can be a very dangerous drug especially when inhaled directly from the canister.
“What people do not realise is that the gas is under a very high pressure in these canisters and inhaling directly from them can cause the throat muscles to spasm and stop a person breathing.
“If you are worried that a friend or family member is using nitrous oxide, please contact one of our confidential health services to get support.”
If you are worried about your own, or someone else’s, use of nitrous oxide, support is available through the local young people’s substance misuse support service, DIVERT, by calling 01709 917651.
Confidential advice is also available at Talk To Frank via phone on 0300 123 6600 or by visiting their website at www.talktofrank.com.