A senior York councillor is calling for action to crack down on nitrous oxide use in public places after large canisters of the gas were found in his ward.
Cllr Andrew Waller represents Westfield. And he believes the misuse of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is getting worse in the area.
People have found a number of industrial-sized canisters of the gas discarded in Westfield – one in a play area.
“In the past, there have been lots of the very small shiny little capsules that have been captured – they’ve been driven out of the system,” the Liberal Democrat told YorkMix Radio.
“But it’s these larger canisters which have now started popping up across the ward. A number of litter pickers have found them on their routes in the last few weeks.
“And it’s recognising that it’s a significant health risk.”
Parliament has voted to make possession of laughing gas illegal from 8 November. But there will still be sources for hospitals and catering, and it is the catering canisters that have been discarded on the streets.
Cllr Waller said: “Clearly from the labelling on the canisters that we found, they are not being targeted at pastry chefs. They are being aimed at a youth underground market.”
He is calling for a public information campaign.
“The priority must be to get across to young people of the dangers of a gas like this, and the long-term damage it can do to their bodies, particularly nerve damage to their spine.
“Some hospitals have reported some very severe cases.”
He wants parents to talk to their children about the risks, so young people are made aware “that there is an inherent danger with the excessive use of of this gas”.
Cllr Waller said “legal enforcement on companies trying to make a profit from this supply” was also needed.