27 Aug 2012

Gas inhalation death numbers alarming

12:45 pm on 27 August 2012

The Chief Coroner says a review of deaths resulting from inhaling gas is producing alarming results.

Judge Neil MacLean ordered an urgent review of the practice in July, after two teenagers in Mosgiel were critically injured when an LPG cylinder exploded while they were 'huffing'.

A boy aged 12, died in Christchurch in May.

On Saturday evening, a teenage girl died in Christchurch after inhaling butane.

Judge MacLean told Morning Report the review has revealed that 'huffing' is a bigger problem than he anticipated.

He said there have been at least 50 deaths from inhaling gas in the past 10 years.

But LPG, butane and propane are common household items and Judge MacLean said it would be difficult to restrict their sale.

The National Drug Foundation says at least 61 people have been killed by inhaling butane gas since 2000.

Foundation head Ross Bell says the availability of the ingredients can make tackling the issue more difficult than dealing with severely dependent alcoholics and people addicted to methamphetamine.