An alarming number of teenagers in the Wood River Valley have found a new and deadly way to get high, advises the Blaine County Sheriff's Office.
By inhaling the propellant in compressed air containers, which people use to clean computer keyboards and other sensitive equipment, kids are getting a euphoric high that can be extremely dangerous, the sheriff's office announced at a press conference Monday.
"You huff it, and they call it dusting," said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jay Davis.
"We have received numerous reports of inhalant abuse," Davis said. "It's basically in the high schools."
He said the misuse of compressed air propellants is a relatively new phenomenon in the area, but vigorous sales of the product in local retail stores indicate the practice is growing rapidly.
Davis said area retailers have been asked to remove compressed air products such as "Dust-Off," "Power Duster" and "Duster" from their shelves and to control sales of the products. He said officers have also notified area schools about the problem.
By intentionally inhaling fumes from cans of compressed air, abusers breathe in the R2 propellant and get an immediate euphoric high, Davis said.
But the practice of dusting can cause Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, which causes death by either suffocation or cardiac arrest.
"When inhaled, the R2 gas fills the lungs and keeps the good air, oxygen, out," reads a sheriff's office press release. "It decreases the oxygen that goes to the heart and the brain."
Davis said parents need to be watchful for potential misuse of compressed air products. The sheriff's office advises parents and teachers of the warning signs:
· Disappearance of the product at a rapid rate.
· Empty cans or containers in trash receptacles.
· Stashes of compressed air cans in children's rooms.
· 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.
News reports found on the Internet tell about a 14-year-old Ohio boy who died last year from dusting.
Warning labels on cans of compressed air advise users of the potential hazards and recommend that they be used in well-ventilated areas.
"The intentional misuse by deliberately inhaling contents may be fatal," says the warning label on a can of Power Duster.
Davis said the sheriff's office is also concerned about the growing use of over-the-counter cough medicines by youngsters trying to get high.
He said the office is receiving an increasing number of reports of kids taking larger-than-recommended doses of cough suppressants, cold medicines and other types of medication.
"Parents should pay close attention to this type of abuse, as it is extremely dangerous and deadly," says the press release.