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Inhalants: The Deadly Dangers to Children and Adults of Accidental and Intentional Abuse

Common, seemingly harmless products in your home-cleaning solutions, paint and glue products, air fresheners, even whipped cream cans-are known to the Office of National Drug Control Policy and other drug agencies as inhalants. That's because when inhaled by sniffing or huffing (through the mouth) the volatile chemicals they contain cause psychoactive, mind-altering and health-damaging effects.

About 23 million Americans aged 12 and over have used inhalants at least once in their lives, according to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. That's 9.7 percent of the total population in that age group. And use typically starts early-sometimes as young as elementary school age-with one in five eighth graders saying they've used inhalants, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).