A report released today by the Division of Community Health Sciences at St George's, University of London, reveals that in 2003 there were 51 deaths in the UK associated with volatile substance abuse. This is the lowest annual total recorded since 1983. The report "Trends in Death Associated with Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2003", which was prepared for the Department of Health, describes trends in death associated with the abuse of gas fuels, aerosols, glues and other solvent based products.
In 2003, butane from all sources, predominantly in the form of cigarette lighter refills accounted for 40 of the 51 deaths. Five of the adult deaths were associated with the anaesthetic agents isoflurane and sevoflurane.
Of the nine volatile substance abuse deaths in under-18 year olds in 2003, six were associated with butane cigarette lighter refills, the sale of which to under-18s is prohibited by legislation. In 2002, there were 24 deaths in under 18 year olds, of which 15 were associated with butane cigarette lighter refills.
Deaths were generally sudden and in 2003 were three times more common in males than females. For both adults and children volatile substance abuse leading to death usually took place in the home.
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Contact: Emma Griffiths
St. George's University of London
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