No laughing matter: Netherlands considers ban of nitrous oxide

Laughing gas can be inhaled from whipped cream dispensers or balloons. Its consumption causes a short period of intoxication.
Laughing gas can be inhaled from whipped cream dispensers or balloons. Its consumption causes a short period of intoxication.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

AMSTERDAM (DPA) - Dutch authorities are looking into a sales ban for nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, amid an increase in the number of people in the Netherlands consuming it as a party drug.

Several cities, among them Amsterdam and Utrecht, have called for a ban on the sale of cartridges of nitrous oxide, due to health hazards and increasing problems in popular entertainment districts.

Laughing gas can be inhaled from whipped cream dispensers or balloons. Its consumption causes a short period of intoxication.

The Ministry of Health was to examine the question, authorities in The Hague said.

The number of poisonings by nitrous oxide in the Netherlands has risen sharply in recent years, according to a report by the National Information Centre on Poisoning in Utrecht.

Up from 13 cases in 2015, 67 cases of health damage due to laughing gas were reported in the first half of 2019.

According to the report, more and more Dutch people are consuming large quantities of around 50 cartridges per day over a longer period of time.

 

This could lead to severe nerve damage, the centre warned.