A report released today by the Division of Community Health Sciences at St George’s, University of London, reveals that altogether in 2006 there were 49 deaths in the UK associated with volatile substance abuse. The report "Trends in Death Associated with Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2006", which was prepared for the Department of Health, describes trends in death associated with the abuse of gas fuels, aerosols, glues, anaesthetic agents and other solvent based products.
In 2006, butane from all sources accounted for 33 of the 49 deaths and of these butane cigarette lighter refills formed the largest group. Five deaths in 2006 were as a result of asphyxia associated with the inhalation of nitrous oxide.
In under-18 year olds there were six deaths resulting from volatile substance abuse in 2006, compared with eight in 2005. Two of these deaths were associated with butane cigarette lighter refills, the sale of which to under-18s is prohibited by legislation.
Deaths were generally sudden and in 2006 were three times more common in males than females. Of the 49 deaths in 2006, ten were suicides involving the inhalation of a volatile substance. For both adults and children volatile substance abuse leading to death usually took place in the home.
Re-Solv is pleased to note that deaths in the under-18 year olds continues to fall. With the introduction this year of our Toxic Agents Primary School pack we are in the best possible position to help keep those figures down.
There is a worrying trend in deaths of long term adult abusers and in VSA being used in suicide. These difficult to address areas will need a strong focus in the coming months and years ahead.
For further details of the St George's Report please click here.
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