A computer keyboard cleaning product has become the new drug of choice for some teenagers.
CBS News reports that “dusting” is the latest and potentially fatal high for adolescents. It involves inhaling the computer keyboard dust cleaner that comes in a spray can.
Even worse is that some teens are “dusting” while driving. Eighteen-year-old Carly Rousso was dusting when she allegedly drove her car onto a sidewalk on Labor Day, killing 5-year-old Jaclyn Santos Sacramento.
In April, then-19-year-old Karli Casey was accused of dusting when she drove her car into oncoming traffic and seriously injured an elderly woman.
A 2011 report by the National Institutes of Health said the biggest dustings abusers were 8th graders.
Dr. Michael Wahl, medical director of the Illinois Poison Center, said, “Buy a can, buy a case and get high. They affect your heart in such a way so that is it more likely to beat irregularly.”
Experts say signs that a teen is dusting including dramatic weight loss and acting belligerent.
Shawnda Hunt, whose 18-year-old son Aaron died in 2010 from inhaling propane, said, “He got really thin. I mean, really thin.” She discovered the empty cans after her son’s death.
Aaron’s brother, Jonathan, said, “It’s just pointless and dumb.”
“Dusting” actually isn’t anything new. In the 2003 film Thirteen, starring Nikki Reed and Evan Rachel Wood, the two teens inhale from a can of computer duster and then slap each other across the face.
On a 2008 episode of Intervention, a pre-med student named Allison was addicted to inhaling computer duster. She has since achieved a small cult following among bloggers and YouTube users.
“Huffing” — or inhaling substances for their intoxicating effect — has been around for years, but “dusting” is a more specific term associated with the use of computer keyboard cleaner. The term comes from the brand “Dust Off.”
The gas paralyzes the user for several minutes and gives them a feeling of euphoria, NBC News reports. It can cause damage to the brain, lungs, kidneys, and liver. It can also cause death.
“Dusting” may not always be easy to detect, bu,t in addition to belligerence and weight loss, complaints of tongue numbness, dazed looks or bloodshot eyes, or strange smells on or around a teen may indicate this particular form of inhalant abuse.