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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 April 2007, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
Toxic bin fumes 'drug of choice'
Wheelie bin (generic)
Police believe the craze could be behind a spate of wheelie bin fires
Setting wheelie bins on fire and sniffing the fumes is the new "drug of choice" for youths, police in South Yorkshire have said.

Teenagers are thought to set the bins alight and then inhale the toxic plastic fumes to get a "high".

Police believe the craze could be behind bin fires in the Athersley and New Lodge areas of Barnsley.

Anti-solvent abuse charities said inhaling the bin fumes could be more dangerous than sniffing glue or petrol.

Pc Jonathan Reed of South Yorkshire Police told BBC Radio Sheffield they were now looking at ways to lock up the bins to prevent the practice.

He said: "It is the drug of choice, setting fire to the bins and inhaling the fumes.

"The health and safety implications are terrible. It's only a matter of time before someone really harms themselves."

They can be breathing in a whole compound of different chemicals in the plastic and not have a clue about what they actually are, or what they're doing to them
Warren Hawksley
Re-Solv

Warren Hawksley, director of anti-solvent abuse charity Re-Solv, said he had heard of the problem in Scotland before, but this was the first time he had come across it in England.

He said that in Scotland it was also known for people to burn bus shelters to get the same effect.

Mr Hawksley said: "It's a deadly combination. They can be breathing in a whole compound of different chemicals in the plastic and not have a clue about what they actually are, or what they're doing to them.

"At least with things like petrol the lead's been taken out of most of it, and there are controls in place to stop abuse of other substances.

"It's worrying that these incidents seem to be spreading too."


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