'Dusting' Gives Teens Cheap High
Young People Inhaling Compressed Air
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A common cleaning product has become the inhalant of choice for a growing number of teens.
Teens once inhaled nitrous oxide from cans of whipped cream, but now many are inhaling compressed air from cans of computer dusting products and the results can be deadly.
The practice is called "dusting."
Ben Goudberg, 15, of Roseville, said he tried it once and regretted it.
"I couldn't move for three to four minutes. I was staring at the door thinking I wanted to get up and touch it, but I couldn't do anything. It was one of the scariest feelings in the world," Goudberg said.
Goudberg survived his "dusting" experience, but his brother did not.
Last summer, 17-year-old Nicolas Goudberg and two other Jesuit High School students were killed in a car crash. A can of compressed air was found inside the vehicle and authorities said a chemical consistent with the computer cleaner "Dust Off" was found in the bloodstream of one of the teens.
"There's a likelihood because a can was found empty that they all had been sharing or had been using prior," Goudberg's father, Frits Goudberg, said.
Jon Daily, a drug counselor with New Directions in Sacramento, said he's treated a few dusting addicts.
"This is the inhalant of choice for young people nowadays," Daily said. "I had a kid who had been using it and had repeated nose bleeds. He had to see his doctor and get part of his nose cauterized."
Inhaling the chemicals can give a feeling of euphoria for a few minutes.
In some cases it can result in paralysis, slurred speech, a staggered walk, permanent brain damage, and even death.
Experts said teens like it because it's cheap, easy to buy and hard to detect.
"No smell ... no trail ... no ashes," Ben Goudberg said.
To combat the problem, retailers such as Wal-Mart, Office Depot and Staples have made it more difficult for teens to get their hands on compressed air products. At Staples, customers must be at least 18 to purchase Dust Off or similar products.
Falcon, the maker of Dust Off, is also taking action by placing warning labels on the top if its cans.
"Clearly the stores and the manufacture of this product know it's a product that's being abused by young people today," Daily said.
It is estimated that as many as 150 American teens and young adults die each use from abusing aerosol inhalants.
It seems American teens are not the only ones getting hooked on dusting. British scientists are currently experimenting with adding bittering chemicals to aerosols and compressed air products, as well as to glue, paint and gasoline.