The latest deadly threat to society

Ben Goldacre, on a recent UK health scare about nitrous oxide, with which some dude managed to suffocate himself.

It's perfectly clear that nitrous is many orders of magnitude safer than alcohol or tobacco, so there is of course now a very newsworthy government crackdown going on to protect people from the harmless gas by adding as many of them as possible to the prison population.

Business as usual in the War on Some Drugs, in other words.

To find a representatively awful piece about the scare (which had previously escaped my attention, on account of the fact that I'm approximately on the other side of the planet), I knew to go directly without passing Go to the always reliable Daily Mail. They did not disappoint (though, as Ben points out, the longer Times piece makes even more mistakes), and proudly stated that "repeated use of the gas can kill and poisoning is a long-term risk".

Assertion one, there, is just barely true, in the same sense that it's true that people who get into aeroplanes can, soon afterwards, fly said planes into skyscrapers. They almost certainly won't, though, just as repeated use of nitrous almost certainly will not kill you, or contribute materially to whatever eventually does.

And, as Ben explains, the vitamin B/folate deficiency problem that's the only real long term risk of chronic (not occasional) nitrous oxide exposure does not by any stretch of the imagination qualify as "poisoning". Well, unless you accept that the "antidote" is knocking off the drug and taking a multivitamin pill. Pissiest Poison Ever, anyone?

I feel kind of goofy defending nitrous when I haven't even had any for some years now, but I do still have a couple of Web pages of great antiquity about it. And it really gets my back up when we're treated to yet another cynical panic about some generally-harmless molecule or other, brought to us by that portion of society which, for reasons even they can't clearly figure out, hates happiness.

So there.

Australian shoppers who can't find cream whipper bulbs in their local supermarket (some genius made it illegal to sell them to minors in most if not all of Australia, cutting off the whole bloody market, so Aussie supermarkets generally just stopped stocking them altogether. The kids went back to booze, ciggies and sniffing glue, of cause) may like to check out this eBay seller.

3 Responses to “The latest deadly threat to society”

  1. will.dutt Says:

    gees, what would the people be thinking if they started to crack down on car hoons because they have bottles of this illegal substance ready to use. ;) just hate to say it but some big new company's should really use readership and some government offices should be kicked out for the shoddy job of making nos a perfectly good drug still used as a pain killer illegal because some idiot didn't understand that bags kill people.

  2. EEK Says:

    People who are too lazy(so I hear, not that I would have any personal knowledge of it myself) to get the bulbs or build a "bulbalator" just buy overpriced cans of Reddi-Whip(or the local discount store equivalent).

    Besides, you get the extra added hilarity of being "creamed" halfway through. Hilarity ensues. :-)

  3. corinoco Says:

    Our local council (Ryde - "City of LifeStyle Technology" - I kid you not) recently banned flying of model aircraft at the freaking enormous Meadowbank Park. For reasons of safety and noise, according to the Brownshirt ranger who unamusingly nabbed me ("Mate, this plane WILL be unsafe if you don't let me land it").

    You can still let dogs run around off-leash, barking like a rabid beast, outside the marked dog-area, while you bother someone flying a balsa glider. You can wantonly play cricket, lobbing a 300g block of wood at innocent bystanders. You can even practice golf; but a silent glider that I won't let anyone under 10years old touch, let alone fly near? banned, nay, A CRIME.

    Mind you, the sign also says you can't land REAL aircraft there either! "OH CRAP! Our engine quit - there's a huge park! No, we'll have to crash in the Parramatta River, or crash into the Auburn refineries, otherwise Ryde Council will sue our arses off" I must say, I haven't seen too many Tiger Moths or Spitfires landing there, though it's easily big enough. Even if they did, I'd love it. I like aircraft noise. Those who don't shouldn't buy houses near airports and then complain; it's the sound of the modern world, people.

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