New BCGA guidance outlines the dangers posed by laughing gas

National trade body, British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA), has produced new guidance outlining the dangers posed by abuse of nitrous oxide.

The guide underpins BCGA’s call for a ban on retail sales of the gas, which would make it available only those purchasing it for legitimate use in medicine, dentistry, or industries such as catering.

Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide has become the second most commonly used substance among 16 to 24-year-olds in England.

In 2019, half a million young people had used nitrous oxide, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and 12% of substance-related deaths mentioned nitrogen or nitrous oxide on the death certificate.

Inhalation of nitrous oxide is highly dangerous. Many of those who inhale it do not appreciate its harm, partly because of slang terms which trivialize its use such as laughing gas, noz and balloons. The abuse of nitrous oxide, aided by the ease of obtaining and ready availability of the cartridges, is a blight on our society. Nitrous oxide has legitimate uses in the medical, food, chemical and sports industries, which is why we are calling on the Government to introduce a straightforward ban on consumer sales.”

Ellen Daniels, Chief executive, BCGA

BCGA’s Abuse of Nitrous Oxide guide outlines the legitimate uses of the gas, as well as delving into the way it is misused, transported, administered and the potential consequences of abuse, which can include addiction, hypoxia and death by asphyxiation.

The guide can be found at


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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