Monday, November 20, 2006

US man dies huffing at natural gas well

Man dies 'huffing' at gas well
A 21-year-old Wise County man died after he reportedly inhaled natural gas at a well site to get high, authorities reported Friday.
It is the first such "huffing" incident known to officials.
Ezekiel B. Thomas was found unconscious late Thursday near a Devon Energy gas well in the 200 block of Private Road 4435, according to Sgt. Debbie Denney, a Wise County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.
Thomas' stepfather told investigators that Thomas and several friends trespassed onto the fenced gas-well site near Thomas' home east of Decatur, Denney said.
At least two other people were reported to have been huffing with Thomas, Denney said. The friends left, returned and found Thomas unresponsive.
Investigators think they got access to the gas through an unlocked hatch cover.
An ambulance took Thomas to Wise Regional Hospital in Decatur, where he was pronounced dead. The Dallas County medical examiner will determine the cause of death, Denney said.
Natural gas typically has no odor and can cause asphyxiation after prolonged exposure, said Dr. Elvin Adams, medical director for the Tarrant County Public Health Department.
"These types of gases displace oxygen, and you don't know it because it doesn't smell any different than the rest of the air," he said. "You can pass out within 15 seconds. If you do not remove yourself from the source, you will never wake up again."
Fences are not required around outdoor natural-gas wells because they are usually on private property, said Ramona Nye, a spokeswoman for the Texas Railroad Commission.
The Devon well had a locked fence around it, Denney said, but it did not have a lock on the hatch cover.
A Devon spokesman referred all questions to the Wise County Sheriff's Department.
Law enforcement officials in Parker and Tarrant counties said they have not heard reports of similar incidents at gas wells.
"That's something I hope will not become a problem," said Terry Grisham, spokesman for the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department. "I hope people know that it is very dangerous."
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said, "We've had problems with people stealing things from the sites, such as copper wiring. But I don't think they are young people or teenagers just hanging around."
Harvey Weiss, executive director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition in Chattanooga, Tenn., said huffing from a natural-gas well is a new form of inhalant abuse.
"I've not heard about that at all," Weiss said.
Therefore, he said, he could not estimate how much a huffer could inhale before dying. In a phenomenon called sudden sniffing death, a huffer's heartbeat becomes irregular, Weiss said. A rush of adrenaline could stop the heart, he said.
Taken from the Central Pennsylvania Star-Telegram

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Solvent Abuse on the Rise Among Britain's Teenagers

Nov 09, 2006

Solvent abuse among teenagers has risen sharply, compared to only minor changes in the level of cannabis use.
Children are now seven times more likely to abuse solvents than ten years ago, according to new research.
The research, by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), shows how solvent abuse in young teenagers has risen from 28,000 to 168,000 last year, in comparison to only minor increases in cannabis use.
Glue-sniffing, also known as volatile substance abuse (VSA) is often associated with crime.
"Although the deaths have decreased, crime surrounding VSA has increased," said Warren Hawksley, director of charity Re-Solv.
"As the chemicals used are so cheap, there isn't usually the problem of theft associated with other drug abuse. However, murder and arson related to solvent abuse has increased."
The IPPR report, Freedom's Orphans: Raising Youth in a Changing World, claims that the development of social skills and strong adult role models are crucial in keeping kids off drugs, drink and cigarettes.
Olive Forsyth of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) agrees that the issue can be dealt with through paying attention to the child but added that this was to an extent problematic.
"It is difficult for teachers because so much of the activity happens outside school hours," she said.
"Schools are not isolated from society in what happens on the street and can try to encourage the child to say no and not be hit by peer pressure."
The IPPR report notes the role of peer pressure and draws upon evidence from American high schools which have different hierarchies of cliques: of athletes, druggies, "eggheads"and so on.
Where the "eggheads" secure a place high up the hierarchy, it was found that children do better academically. Where "druggies" reach the top they do less well, indicating the role of peer effects in setting norms of behaviour.
This was repeated in research done with 300 children in the Netherlands which is quoted in FirstNews, a weekly paper for school-aged children.
The charity Solve It was founded by Barbara Skinner MBE in 1989 a year after her son died from solvent abuse. She claims that there are around 50 products around the home that can be abused.
She considered herself a responsible parent and, as a qualified nurse, was able to tell her children about the dangers of smoking, alcohol, and illegal drugs: "However, my knowledge of VSA was non existent, this type of substance abuse was not discussed," she said.
"It's forgotten about in the complexities of illegal drugs."
The effects of VSA are similar to being drunk but wears off after about half an hour. It is also less chemically addictive than alcohol but, as with all drugs, users can become psychologically dependent.
The reports shows that the numbers of teenagers drinking has shown little change since the late 1980s but that for those who do drink, consumption levels are steadily increasing and children are starting to drink earlier, particularly at younger ages.
Mr Hawksley, Mrs Skinner and Julia Margo, one of the authors of the report, all state that education is the key to diminishing this rising tragedy and that government action has a large part to play.

Article by Damian Rice
Epoch Times London

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Computer dusting product changed to curb inhalant abuse

An unpalatable additive is being added to computer dusting products in an attempt to discourage aerosol inhalant abuse, a consumer electronics company announced Thursday.
Falcon Safety Products, which manufactures Dust Off, said the change was made to curb inhalant abuse. The practice is known as "dusting," "huffing," or "bagging," and involves the inhalation of compressed air from products intended to be used to clean electronics equipment.
To discourage this abuse of its products, Falcon announced it has come up with a new formula for its products that includes an additive that makes them taste very bad.
"Developing the new aerosol took more than two years of R&D work and substantial financial investment and bringing it to market has been no minor endeavour," said Phil Lapin, president and CEO of Falcon Safety Products, in a release.
"However, if our efforts help make a difference in the fight against inhalant abuse and save even one life, it will have been all worthwhile," he said.
The cans of compressed gas are commonly perceived as harmless cans of air and give users feelings of euphoria, light-headedness and exhilaration. However, the products contain chemicals that can lead to permanent brain damage, asphyxiation and even death.
Last June, school officials and RCMP officials issued a warning to parents about the growing trend after four teenagers in Surrey, B.C., were found inhaling the contents of a computer duster in a school washroom.
According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in five children said they had abused a product as an inhalant by the time they reached Grade 8.
Other common household products abused include correction fluid, rubber cement, gasoline, propane, glue, marking pens, hair spray and air fresheners.

from CBC News