58 deaths from VSA in 2007
St George's University of London has released the 22nd annual Trends in deaths associated with volatile substances 1971-2007 report.
The report, which was compiled for the Department of Health, monitors trends in deaths associated with the misuse of gas fuels, aerosols, glues, anaesthetic agents and other solvent based products.
There were 58 deaths associated with volatile substance abuse in 2007, compared with
51 deaths in 2006, bringing the total number of VSA deaths in the UK since 1971 to
In 2007, butane from all sources accounted for 46 of the 58 deaths and of these butane cigarette lighter refills formed the largest group. Three deaths in 2007 were attributed to asphyxia (a condition of deficient supply of oxygen to the body) associated with the inhalation of nitrous oxide (more commonly known as ‘laughing gas’).
Among under 18s there were seven deaths resulting from volatile substance misuse in 2007 - a similar number to the previous two years.
Other key findings include:
Since 1992, there has been an overall decline in the number of deaths from volatile substance abuse. There was an average of 76 per year in 1993-1999, but this fell to an average of 56 per year in 2000-2007;
For twenty year olds and over there was an increase in 2007 to 48 deaths, the highest number recorded to date for this age-group;
Gas fuels continue to be associated with the majority of deaths. In 2007, butane from all sources, including aerosol propellants, accounted for almost 80% of VSA deaths (46 of the 58 deaths).
Recorded deaths were generally sudden and in 2007 were five times more common in males than females. Of the 58 deaths in 2007, nine were suicides involving the inhalation of a volatile substance. The report found that for both adults and children, volatile substance abuse which led to death usually took place in the home.
The reason that figures from 2007 are being published now is due to a necessary delay of more than twelve months between the end of a calendar year and publication of the VSA report. This is to allow time for data to become available from HM Coroners and from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and the General Register Offices for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Download VSA Report 22: Trends in Death Associated with Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2007