27 Aug 2012

Users unaware of dangers of huffing - Dr

6:58 pm on 27 August 2012

The Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee says people do not seem to be aware just how dangerous it is to inhale volatile gases such as butane, LPG and propane in a practice known as huffing.

The Chief Coroner says a review of deaths resulting from inhaling gas is producing alarming results: there have been at least 50 in the past 10 years.

Judge Neil MacLean ordered an urgent review of the practice in July, after two teenagers in Mosgiel were critically injured when an LPG cylinder exploded while they were 'huffing'.

A boy aged 12, died in Christchurch in May.

On Saturday evening, a teenage girl died in Christchurch after inhaling butane.

Dr Nick Baker from the review committee says poisoning is the second most common cause of youth death by injury and many of those poisonings are caused by huffing.

"These volatile solvents rapidly enter the bloodstream and from there they affect the functioning of the nerves in the brain, and nerves in places like the heart so that the heart can suddenly stop and the brain can stop working, associated with seizures and brain damage if death does not occur."

Dr Baker says the low price and easy availability of volatile gases makes it very difficult to prevent their abuse and a multi-pronged approach is needed to reduce the number of deaths.

Teen out of coma

One of the Mosgiel teenagers has regained consciousness from a coma.

Jamie Jury suffered significant burns when the canister he and a friend were inhaling gas from caught on fire in Mosgiel last month.

His father, Steven Jury, says his son has no memory of the fire and they are waiting until he recovers further to tell him how it started.