Five fatalities have been reported in Eastern Europe during the last week due to gas misuse.

Gases are used widely in everyday life, and when handled correctly, are an invaluable resource. However, with incorrect use can cause great harm to individuals.

Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas”, and carbon dioxide (CO2) in the form of dry ice were the gases concerned in the recent deaths reported in mainstream media.

The first reported case concerned three individuals at a pool party in Moscow, Russia, last Friday who used dry ice to cool down the pool’s temperature.

Less than a week ago many media outlets said that the victims were connected to an Instagram influencer who was celebrating a birthday in a pool complex.

Reports explain that the party took a bad twist when dry ice was added into the pool. According to the BBC, a member of the emergency services told Ria news agency that the party attendees had order 25kg of dry ice for the event.

A solid form of carbon dioxide, dry ice is manufactured by flashing liquid carbon dioxide to solid and compressing it. At temperature dry ice is very cold, -79ºC, which makes it useful for refrigeration and cold packaging, however, should not be used to entertain, such as in the case above.

In fact, in a leaflet written by the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) titled The Dangers of Misusing Gases, in the view of BCGA members, the use of dry ice as a means of entertainment should be outlawed.

Generic Dry ice carbon dioxide

Nitrous oxide

The second reported case concerned a 27-year-old Ukrainian chess champion and his 18-year-old girlfriend were found dead in their flat in Moscow due to poisoning from laughing gas.

Media reports says that the couple were found in their flat with balloons containing the gas. Balloons is the method many use to inhale the laughing gas.

Again, the BCGA touches on the use of this gas in its ‘The Dangers of Misusing Gases’ leaflet, explaining that the inhalation of nitrous oxide can give a ‘drunken’ or euphoric effect.

The BCGA explains that when used incorrectly nitrous oxide can cause a hypoxic state, which can lead to heart arrest and can cause immediate death through asphyxiation.

In the UK, Legislation was introduced back in 2016 making it illegal to give away or sell nitrous oxide for psychoactive purposes under the Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA).

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