What are aerosols?
Aerosols are self-dispensing, pressurized containers, including spray products and foam products that are used by household, institutional, commercial, and industrial consumers.
Are aerosols being abused?
Yes. Aerosols improve our quality of life in many ways. They provide benefits in medical treatment, health care, pest control, disease prevention, personal care and hygiene, and household, automotive and industrial cleaning maintenance. However, when abused and inhaled they can cause serious harm and pose great danger to your health.
Examples of products being abused:
Dusters or Computer Cleaners
NO! Often called “canned-air” or “computer cleaner”, a compressed-gas duster is a little bit more involved than most people care to imagine or understand. Because the pressurized blast that is delivered is invisible and odorless most people incorrectly assume it is “air-in-a-can”.
Compressed-gas dusters are not air in a can! The cleaners actually contain a liquefied gas. When you spray, this liquid is turns into gas and released through the nozzle. Many manufacturers have added bittering agents to their dusters to deter inhalant abuse.
Since its introduction in the 1970’s the compressed-gas duster has been safely and effectively used for a multitude of applications ranging from computer cleaning to craft cleaning to model preparation and cleaning to automotive detailing and so on. Dusters are members of the aerosol products family, but unlike other aerosol products which propel a liquid or powder (i.e. hair spray, cooking spray, insecticide, etc) through the nozzle, in a duster, the propellant is used to propel itself through the nozzle.
It is important to note, when used properly and in accordance with the directions on the can this product is completely safe and has proven to be of great value to its users. However, when used incorrectly, which in many cases is the result of not understanding the product it can have harmful affects.
So what’s really inside?
Simply putting air in a can would not sustain or maintain the needed pressure to do the job that millions of people need for their cleaning tasks. Most dusters contain one of two chemicals: tetrafluoroethane (HFC-134a) or difluoroethane (HFC -152a).
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Signs of Abuse
Different inhalants yield different effects, yet generally speaking, because inhaled chemicals are absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and distributed quickly to the brain and other organs, the effects of inhaling can be severe. Within minutes, the user experiences feelings of intoxication and may become dizzy, have headaches, abdominal pain, limb spasms, lack of coordination, loss of control, hallucinations, and impaired judgment. Worse, he or she may even die from a condition known as Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, which can even occur with first time users.
Long-term inhalant users generally suffer from muscle weakness, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, depression, liver or kidney damage and central nervous system (including brain) damage. The dangers are real, the side effects are severe and the high is not worth risking your life.
Below is a HELPful way to remember the warning signs of an inhalant abuser:
Hidden chemical-soaked rags or clothes
Eyes and nose red or runny
Loss of appetite or nausea
Paint or chemical stains on face or fingers
Inhalant Abuse Cases Involving Aerosols
Check out the Inhalant Blog for inhalant abuse cases involving aerosols. Search by date, location, and product type. Click here.