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Harmful gas


Nitrous oxide is a colourless gas, also known as ‘laughing gas’. 
Nitrous oxide is a Class C drug and it is an offence to possess it unless it can be shown it was possessed for one of the legitimate statutory exemptions. Nitrous oxide has widespread legitimate uses, including in medical, dental, and veterinary settings and those with a legitimate reason for possessing the substance will be exempt from the ban.
However, possession with the intent to wrongfully inhale the substance or to supply to another person for it’s wrongful inhalation is an offence. ‘Wrongful inhalation’ means inhalation for purposes other than medical or dental purposes or of nitrous oxide that has been released into the atmosphere. It includes inhalation for the substances psychological effects and the offence is designed to prevent people recreationally inhaling the substance for this reason. 
The consequences for the offence of unlawful possession could include an unlimited fine, a visible community punishment, a caution and for repeat serious offenders, a prison sentence.
It is also an offence to import, export, produce or supply nitrous oxide where a person intends to wrongfully inhale the substance or where the individual knows, or is reckless as to whether, it is likely that another person will wrongfully inhale it.
There are serious health risks associated with the use of nitrous oxide, heavy use can result in neurological damage and even death due to the risk of falling unconscious and/or suffocating from the lack of oxygen.


  • Switch off the appliance immediately.
  • Open all doors and windows to ventilate the room. 
  • Leave the property immediately. 
  • Shut off the gas at the supply.
  • Do not use again until repaired/replaced.
  • Call the National Grid on 0800 111 999.
  • Contact your GP/casualty or an ambulance depending on the seriousness of the effects.
  • Ensure the appliance is fixed/repaired by a Gas Safe registered repairer.
The emergency services advise the fitting of a Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm in the house, thus protecting lives and property.

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