The Effects of Breathing Canned Air

Aerosol cans contain propellants to thrust the gas out more forcefully.
Aerosol cans contain propellants to thrust the gas out more forcefully. (Image: Images)

Canned air is used in households to clean loose dust and dirt from hard-to-reach places, such as computer keyboards; and can also be a hands-free form of cleaning camera lenses and things sensitive to fingerprints. In recent years, however, canned air has become increasingly popular with people who don`t intend to clean anything with it at all; and instead, get high off it. The act of inhaling canned air, also known as "dusting," is a cheap, quick, and virtually undetectable way to become inebriated. The risks of doing so, however, far exceed the pleasures.

Drug Effects

People who abuse canned air can experience a variety of side effects, depending on the type of duster and the dosage. With a small amount, the user can feel mild inebriation, categorized by a short period of dizziness and silliness, very similar to that of being drunk. Users who take a large dosage could possibly experience disorientation, a lost sense of time and space, and possible hallucinations.

Beware of Contents

The term "canned air" is misleading. Air dusters contain more than just oxygen; they sometimes contain helium, methane and fluorocarbons. Almost all air dusters contain tetrafluoroethane, which is a propellant used in many refrigerators and auto air conditioning systems. While this ingredient is not necessarily toxic in chemical content, its gas is much denser than oxygen, and will cut out the flow of oxygen to the rest of the body, possibly resulting in asphyxiation.

Content labels can save lives.
Content labels can save lives. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Short Term Effects

The sudden loss of oxygen flow to the body results in a state known as "hypoxia." Hypoxia is when the body is deprived of a sufficient oxygen supply. If hypoxia comes on in a rapid manner, say, from the sudden displacement of oxygen from a duster, then it can cause loss of consciousness, seizure, or even cardiac arrest. What makes hypoxia especially scary is that the victim´s brain could suffer from it moments before experiencing any outward signals, making the victim unaware that he is actually suffocating from the inside, until it's too late to receive assistance.

Also, when a compressed gas is released rapidly from its container, it tends to cool abruptly, possibly resulting in frostbite blisters around the mouth or nose.

Long Term Effects

If a user were lucky enough to survive her first inhalant experience, the long-term effects that follow can be almost equally as devastating. Dusting has been directly linked to serious damage of the brain and central nervous system, which can eventually lead to loss of senses and paralysis later in life. Kidney and liver problems have also been linked to duster abuse.

Spread the Word

The availability, price and overall undetectability of inhaling canned air has made it increasingly popular among young people who want to get high for cheap, and without getting into trouble. This dangerous habit has destroyed lives and families, so it is very important to educate those around you about this topic. If you or someone you know has a problem with dusting, please seek help immediately.

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