Health

British Youth Revisit Trash Can Drug Craze

| by Shani Shahmoon

A few years ago, teens would choke each other to cut off the intake of oxygen to their brain, making them feel "high." Now, British teens have reportedly rekindled another dangerous craze, all in the name of getting a high for free.

"Hundreds" of reports have been made claiming young people are stealing trash cans and lighting them on fire to get high off the fumes, reported the Hartlepool Mail when it broke the story on March 22.

Mark Hall, spokesperson for waste management company Business Waste, said the company has had reports go up 100 percent in the last few months.

"We've seen reports from Wolverhampton, Hull, Glasgow and Swindon over recent weeks, and they're all the same. Idiots stealing wheeled bins from outside homes and businesses, taking them to waste ground or parks, and torching them for whatever kicks they can derive," Hall said.

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These trash cans, which look much like the residential trash cans in the U.S. that come in green, gray, blue and black, are made from dense polyethylene, which is made of double-bonded carbon and hydrogen molecules. When burned, the plastic releases carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, both of which affect oxygen levels in the brain. This is why it's likened to the choking game.

Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous chemical that cuts off oxygen to the brain and can cause loss of conscious, brain damage and even death, notes the New York Department of Health.

Similarly, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety reports that inhaling a large amount of carbon dioxide is also a poisonous asphyxiate that can cause nausea and vomiting, collapse, convulsions, coma and death.

Reporters at Vice are hesitant to believe Hall's claims following an interview with him.

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When asked about his sources, Hall said "drivers."

 "So you have to take it with a pinch of salt," he added.

According to Hall, trash cans being set on fire would have been unheard of months ago, but years ago this meant one thing -- a cheap high.

This craze is not new to Britain.

In 2007, South Yorkshire issued a warning after 40 trash cans were burned for the purpose of getting high in a matter of only four months.

At that time, Vice reported that around 100 bins had been stolen during a two-week period. Cities at the time gave residents chains and padlocks to prevent trash can thefts.

During this previous wave, a Vice intern had someone inhale the fumes as an experiment and documented the person's experience.

After inhaling the smoke for 30 seconds straight, the "guinea pig" then collapsed into a fit of coughing, felt nauseous, began vomiting "more violently than 'The Exorcist'" and finally felt euphoric due to his relief of no longer throwing up.

Organizations trying to prevent solvent abuse stated that inhaling melting trash can fumes could be more dangerous than sniffing glue or gasoline.

Officials are concerned about chemical poisoning as well as explosions caused by aerosol cans that could be in these trash cans.

Sources: Vice (2), Hartlepool Mail, New York Department of Health, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety / Photo credit: Vice

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