Young people warned over dangers of nitrous oxide

Young people are being warned about the dangers of inhaling nitrous oxide (laughing gas), following the discovery of several hundred empty canisters in parks and open spaces across Worcester since the beginning of lockdown.

"It is very dangerous to inhale nitrous oxide (laughing gas) directly from the canister. You risk falling unconscious or suffocating from the lack of oxygen; people have died this way," said Cllr Lynn Denham, Vice Chair of the City Council's Communities Committee.

"I would urge parents to talk to teenagers about the dangers of laughing gas.Many are not aware of the risks and regard this as harmless fun.

"We're also calling on businesses which supply nitrous oxide for legitimate purposes to make stringent checks before selling it to anyone.Unfortunately this product is very easy to obtain and much more needs to be done to address this problem."

Worcester City Council's community safety team has been proactively engaging with young adults gathering in parks and have talked to about 130 people about this issue in recent weeks.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said: "As Commissioner I have heard from a number of people that they are becoming concerned about nitrous oxide and the number of canisters being found. I am aware it is something that is not only affecting Worcester, but the whole of West Mercia.

"Whilst there is a limit to what enforcement can do, this is still an issue of anti-social behaviour and the health of young people. We need to be doing more, which is why I would like to work with partners to find ways to reduce the problem, and ensure those buying the canisters aren't able to do so as easily as they are now. Collectively, we have the power to make a difference and see that this doesn't become a greater problem."

There's no immediate danger to the public from discarded canisters.If you find one in Worcester's parks and open spaces, please report it to the City Council online at www.worcester.gov.uk/reportit

If you're concerned about a young person's welfare, call the police now on 101. 

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