PRESS RELEASE: Trade body guidance on dangers of laughing gas

National trade body, British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA), has produced new guidance outlining the dangers posed by abuse of nitrous oxide.

The guide underpins BCGA's call for a ban on retail sales of the gas, which would make it available only those purchasing it for legitimate use in medicine, dentistry, or industries such as catering.

Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide has become the second most commonly used substance among 16- to 24-year-olds in England.

In 2019, half a million young people had used nitrous oxide, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and 12% of substance-related deaths mentioned nitrogen or nitrous oxide on the death certificate.

Ellen Daniels, the chief executive of the BCGA, said: "Inhalation of nitrous oxide is highly dangerous. Many of those who inhale it do not appreciate its harm, partly because of slang terms which trivialise its use such as laughing gas, noz and balloons.

"The abuse of nitrous oxide, aided by the ease of obtaining and ready availability of the cartridges, is a blight on our society.

"Nitrous oxide has legitimate uses in the medical, food, chemical and sports industries, which is why we are calling on the Government to introduce a straightforward ban on consumer sales."

BCGA's Abuse of Nitrous Oxide guide outlines the legitimate uses of the gas, as well as delving into the way it is misused, transported, administered and the potential consequences of abuse, which can include addiction, hypoxia and death by asphyxiation.

The guide can be found at


Press release issued by Jane Shepherd, Shepherd PR - 01538 308685

Notes To Editors - About BCGA

The ‘invisible industry' underpinning a safe, successful and healthy nation - industrial medical and food gases are essential to the existence and wellbeing of thousands of people in the UK every day.
Industrial gases perform a wide-ranging role, supporting the manufacture of information technology, as well as key UK industrial sectors including steelmaking, refining, welding, chemical processing and electronics. They also help keep homes warm, water clean and food nutritious, appealing and affordable - while medical gases play a critical role in applications including respiratory care, pain therapies and anesthesia.

The British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) is the UK membership body for this critical industry. With a commitment to stringent quality, safety and environmental measures, BCGA members employ 19,000 people directly and account for an annual turnover of £2.7 billion.

Members of BCGA operate in a highly regulated industry and work together on technical, safety, health and environmental issues to achieve high standards of integrity and environmental care, both within their own and customers' working environments.

BCGA promotes safety practice through its publications and also participates in the preparation and revision of National, European and International Standards.

Download a pdf copy


10 March 2021


Back to news page