Warning after deadly gas canisters are found dumped in Wigan
Volunteers were taking part in a community litter pick in Ashton town centre when they came across the used nitrous oxide canisters discarded in a car park near Ashton market.
It is the latest in a serious of discoveries locally which reveal a problem blighting the borough.
Wigan volunteer Danny Fletcher posted a photograph of the canisters on social media, saying: “Hundreds of nitrous oxide canisters (laughing gas) picked-up early this morning on Ashton Market. Thanks to those that helped litterpick.”
Ashton councillor Anthony Sykes, who earlier this year called for more action to be taken to combat the issue, responded by saying: “Disappointing to see all the NO (nitrous oxide) abuse after Addaction UK carried out great education in the town. Will continue to push for sanctions again.”
Nitrous oxide is taken by inhalation. Users typically transfer the gas from the canister to a balloon using a dispenser.
Once the NO is inside the balloon, the user inhales it to experience symptoms such as euphoria, giddiness. Side effects include numbness, blurred vision, confusion and dizziness.
Frank, one of the UK’s biggest drug helpline, warns that laughing gas can be fatal if it is inhaled directly from the dispenser as it can damage the lungs.
The helpline also warned that people have died after inhaling laughing gas.
Experts say that taking the drug in an enclosed space, such as a car, is also “very dangerous”.
They have given the following advice: “Never place a plastic bag over your head. If you take too much nitrous oxide you risk falling unconscious and/or suffocating from the lack of oxygen. People have died this way.
“Heavy regular use of nitrous oxide can lead to a deficiency of vitamin B12 and to a form of anaemia. Severe B12 deficiency can lead to serious nerve damage, causing tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes.
“This can be very painful and make walking difficult. Regular use can stop you forming white blood cells properly.
“It can be hard to judge the amount to use safely. If you have too much you can end up fainting, having an accident or worse.”
Prof Kate Ardern, Wigan Council’s director of public health, said: “We are working across the borough, with our partners and in schools, to remind young people of the dangers and risks association with using nitrous oxide.
“There are a number of side effects which can happen from regular use including red blood cell problems, that could result in anaemia, a risk of vitamin D deficiency with continued use and a link with mood swings and depression.
“We would encourage a referral to Addaction, for either adults or young people, for anyone requiring support with substance issues.”
Addaction’s Wigan branch can be contacted on 01942 487578, and the Leigh branch can be contacted on 01942 404299. Alternatively, visit addaction.org.uk to find out more.