Warning over deadly laughing gas after used metal canisters are found littering Sunderland streets
A warning about a drug which can prove fatal has been issued by Sunderland leaders worried about a rise in the number of empty canisters found littering the streets.
Sunderland City Council has voiced fears about the safety of young people after the nitrous oxide containers have been found dumped in open spaces across the city where groups often gather together.
Often known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide has become one of the most commonly used psychoactive substances for 16 to 24-year-olds.
Inhaling the colourless gas which comes in small silver canisters, produces a short-lived euphoric high but can be extremely dangerous, putting people at increased risk of accidents while on a 'high'.
Substance misuse charity Re-solv says that sustained use of nitrous oxide can result in nerve damage and that deaths have been linked to its prolonged and chronic use.
People have been asked to report where the empty containers have been found as the council and police work to deal with the issue.
Councillor Louise Farthing, cabinet member for children, learning and skills, said: "We are seeing more evidence of used nitrous oxide canisters being left lying around in places where youngsters gather which is obviously cause for concern.
"While it produces a short term high, using nitrous oxide can also be lethal, particularly when mixed with alcohol. It also makes you more prone to having accidents and its heavy use can lead to unconsciousness and suffocation.
"Young people really need to know the risks and they also need to know that there is help available if they do have a problem with substance misuse.
"But we would also urge anyone who comes across the canisters used in nitrous oxide abuse lying around in their area to report it to the council."
Inspector Jamie Southwell, of Northumbria Police, said: “We are aware of issues around the use of nitrous oxide and empty cartridges which have been found in various areas of Sunderland.
“We are working closely with the council and other partners on this issue, and will continue to respond to reports from the public where this has been linked to antisocial behaviour.”
Anyone who finds used canisters of nitrous oxide can report them via https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/Report-litter-debris-or-leaves.