Arkansas Woman Drowns after Huffing Duster

Duster, also known as canned or compressed air, is used to clean pieces of electronic equipment or other sensitive devices. Unfortunately, duster is also a product commonly abused. Known as “huffing,” users inhale the chemical-laden compressed air as a way to get a quick high.

Duster Claims Another Life

After huffing chemically treated duster, 30-year-old Patricia Sprouse was found dead in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Her body was discovered on July 2, lying face down in a creek – three empty cans of duster were discovered on the ground next to her body.

Officials from the Arkansas State Crime Lab performed an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Experts determined it was a drowning brought on by chemical inhalants. After huffing three cans of duster, Sprouse passed out, fell face first into the creek and drowned. The woman previously lived at the nearby Salvation Army and was battling addiction problems, according to a Salvation Army official.

Shocking Facts About Inhalant Abuse

  • More than 2.6 million children between the ages of 12 to 17 abuse duster.
  • One in four students has abused duster before eighth grade.
  • Inhalants are often the first drug abused by children.
  • Inhalants are the fourth most-abused substance after alcohol, tobacco and marijuana.
  • The number of lives claimed by inhalant abuse each year is unknown because these deaths often are attributed to other causes.

The Dangers of Huffing

Don’t let the name “canned air” fool you; when it comes to clean, breathable air, duster is anything but. To make the compressed product, hazardous gases are turned into liquids, namely fluorocarbons. When inhaled, these gasses expand and cool rapidly. Users quickly experience a loss of motor skills, slurred speech, and lightheadedness. Like Sprouse, many people huffing duster quickly pass out, thanks to a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Huffing duster does serious damage to the human body. On inspiration, chemical gasses fill up the lungs and prevent oxygenated air from getting in. The body’s oxygen levels are deceased and the heart’s rhythm is disrupted. Regular abuse causes severe damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, and liver.

A Silent Epidemic

Inhalant abuse is a serious problem in the United States. More recent tragedies include:

  • A 21-year-old Indiana man was arrested for assaulting his grandmother while high on duster.
  • After huffing multiple cans of duster, two 20-year-old men caused a four-car pileup on a Montana highway.
  • The body of a 22-year-old Massachusetts man was found lying in a ditch, with multiple cans of duster and cleaning products strewn about.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, take action today. Our toll-free helpline can connect you to the best addiction treatment centers to fit your needs. We’re available around the clock at 1-888-744-0069.

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