20 Dec 2012

Huffing not straightforward to detect - toxicologist

6:52 am on 20 December 2012

A scientist at the National Poisons Centre says there's no straightforward detection system to tell whether a young person is huffing.

Rotorua coroner Wallace Bain on Wednesday released his findings on the death of a 16-year-old Rotorua boy who had inhaled either butane or deodorant.

Since 2000, 63 people have died from the practice.

Mr Bain says in many instances families are simply not aware young people are huffing. He said an age ban on sales may be impractical because the products involved are so widely available.

Toxicologist Dr Leo Schep from the National Poisons Centre says clues to whether people are huffing include smelling chemicals in people's mouths, empty aerosol cans, and drunken behaviour when no alcohol is present.

He says parents need to keep an eye out for signs, and be vigilant.

Dr Schep says huffing can cause cardiac issues, which can lead to the user collapsing and dying.