'DUSTING' HAS A NEW MEANING
Huffing Method Made Possible By Keyboard Cleaner
Police, counselors and even office supply stores are becoming aware of a new drug craze happening throughout the nation.
Dusting -- a form of huffing -- involves users inhaling compressed air found in the most unassuming of household products: keyboard cleaner.
Maria Reiser, director of community outreach with Mount Pleasant Swift Counseling, said dusting has gotten the group's attention, although it has yet to deal with any specific case.
"Certain drugs go in and out in terms of trends," she said. "This is extremely dangerous. There is a great risk of permanent brain damage or death from first use."
Reiser said the compressed air in keyboard cleaners contains a refrigerant which replaces the air in the lungs, giving users a brief buzz throughout their body.
"They don't get high; it's a poison," she said. "They experience brain damage right away."
Detective Lt. Amado Arceo, a supervisor for the Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team, or BAYANET, said dusting could damage the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver as well.
"When you take in chemicals like that, those types of things are going to attack the central nervous system," he said. "It's really nothing to be playing around with."
Like Reiser, Arceo hasn't come across this problem firsthand but he said it's something that should be taken seriously.
"It's something that's out there," he said. "If people start thinking about trying it, it's just as bad as other drugs. You can die from dusting just as easily as you can die from meth(amphetamines) and crack."
Arceo said enforcement against dusting and other inhalant use is difficult since the products being used are legal.
Many companies are beginning to institute store policies to try and limit sales of items for such purposes.
Staples Corporation, a leading office supply chain, began prohibiting sales of canned air to customers under 18 last fall, said company spokesman Owen Davis.
"Staples instituted this policy to help enforce the warning label on the can," Davis said. "Our cashiers are prompted and reminded to ask for identification when a customer goes to buy a canned air product."
Arceo said similar policies in stores selling meth ingredients have limited the spread of the drug. He doesn't know if this will be the case with the new drug fad.
"I don't know if dusting will get to that point, but time will tell," Arceo said.