Lethal ‘Laughing gas’ abuse in Sidmouth council car park

PUBLISHED: 11:00 09 November 2011

Two boxes of empty air capsule canisters that are used in coffee machines were found in a carpark at the Knowle council offices in Sidmouth. These capsules are also known to be misused as a form of 'legal high'. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 5989-44-11AW

Two boxes of empty air capsule canisters that are used in coffee machines were found in a carpark at the Knowle council offices in Sidmouth. These capsules are also known to be misused as a form of 'legal high'. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 5989-44-11AW

Archant

THRILL-SEEKERS appear to be dicing with death in a council car park - by illegally inhaling gas for a giggle.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) bosses have vowed to up security patrols of their Knowle car park after the trademarks of potentially lethal nitrous oxide – or ‘laughing gas’ - abuse were spotted there on Wednesday.

Tiny capsules used in whipped cream dispensers in the catering trade were found along with balloons in bushes at the spot.

Police have warned their misuse in a bizarre ritual could have dire consequences that are no laughing matter.

A force spokesperson said substance abusers pierce the tops of the capsules, dispense the nitrous oxide into the balloons, and then inhale the gas.

The practice causes a head-rush as the body is starved of oxygen and the user will feel dizzy, have slurred speech and be prone to the ‘giggles’.

However, more sinister side effects include headaches, vomiting, loss of co-ordination, nerve damage, paralysis and possibly death.

Even piercing the top of a capsule could result in an explosion or serious freeze burns.

Adults can buy the capsules, freely available on the internet, but it is illegal to sell or supply them to anyone under 18. It is illegal to inhale nitrous oxide.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “We were not aware of these canisters or any anti-social activity that might be associated with them.

“We will be clearing them away and looking at increasing security patrols of the area to deter such practices in future.”

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