Our experienced, professional cleaning team offer their Nitrous Oxide Canisters Collection and Recycling in Dorset.
Nitrous Oxide or “Laughing Gas” Canisters. What are they?
Nitrous oxide, which is also commonly known as “laughing gas” or “NOS” is a colourless and odourless gas. It consists of nitrogen and oxygen molecules (N2O) and has a variety of uses.
The most known (legitimate) uses are in medicine, dentistry, the food industry and in automotive applications.
Nitrous Oxide use in medical environments
In medical environments, nitrous oxide is used as an anaesthetic, as it has both analgesic (pain-relieving) and anaesthetic properties. It is the main anaesthetic used in dental work and minor surgeries, often used in combination with other anaesthetic agents. It also has the additional benefit of calming the patient, so it’s used extensively in cases where anxiety may be present. It is administered through a mask that the patient wears which allows the doctor to control the dosage according to the operation’s requirements.
Nitrous Oxide use in the food industry
In the food industry, its most common use is as a whipping agent in aerosol cans to create whipped cream. Upon releasing the gas from the canister, it expands and creates a foamy texture in the cream. If you’ve had whipped cream recently, nitrous oxide was involved in the process.
Nitrous Oxide use in the automotive industry
Usually known as “nitro” in the auto world, nitrous oxide is injected into the engine to provide additional oxygen. This makes the combustion of fuel more effective, and therefore increases horsepower and speed.
Nitrous Oxide or “laughing gas” as a party drug
Unfortunately, it has become very common to see piles of Nitrous Oxide canisters being dumped in parks, bins and public areas. These come from individuals who inhale the gas directly from small nitrous oxide canisters (whippets) or larger ones like the food grade ones shown in the photo earlier, or balloons filled with the gas. The result is potentially a short-lived sense of euphoria and altered consciousness. Due to this short-term effect, individuals who inhale nitrous gas often get several canisters, which they dispose after they empty, resulting in lots of dumped canisters.
The health risks of inhaling Nitrous Oxide
There is practically no risk from the inhalation of the miniscule quantities of nitrous oxide contained in whipped cream. But when it is inhaled from balloons, the volume is many times higher, and this causes several health implications.
The first and most important risk is that of oxygen deprivation, or what’s known in the medical world as “hypoxia”. Hypoxia occurs when your body tissues start receiving lower levels of oxygen than normal. This causes symptoms like confusion, restlessness, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate and bluish skin. Since hypoxia is induced by the inhalation of big quantities of nitrous oxide gas, it doesn’t discriminate which tissues it will deprive oxygen of, it just deprives all of them. This can include the brain, the lungs and the heart. Inhaling nitrous oxide can affect the cardiovascular system, potentially leading to an increased heart rate and blood pressure as the heart tries to pump more blood to make up for the oxygen it requires. In severe cases, an individual may end up with permanent brain damage, a cardiac arrest or even death.
Another risk is that of physical injury. Individuals under the influence of nitrous oxide may experience impaired coordination and judgment, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. Falls, burns and other mishaps can occur due to impaired motor skills. Also, a sudden release of nitrous oxide can cause severe frostbite on the mouth, tongue, vocal chords and the face.
Furthermore, although nitrous oxide itself is not considered highly addictive, some individuals may develop psychological dependence on the drug, leading to compulsive use. And even though it may induce a temporary sense of euphoria, its use can also induce confusion, disorientation and even cause hallucinations.
Lastly, the above are only the short term effects. Frequent use of nitrous oxide can interfere with the body’s ability to utilize vitamin B12. This can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency which, in turn, can cause neurological problems, anaemia, temporary infertility, pregnancy complications and even birth defects.
What the law says about Nitrous Oxide or “laughing gas”
Until recently, Nitrous oxide was controlled under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. It was already illegal to produce, supply, import or export nitrous oxide where a person knew, or was reckless as to whether it would be consumed for its psychoactive effects. However, it had not been an offence to possess nitrous oxide (except in a custodial setting).
As of November 8th 2023, possession of nitrous oxide is illegal, if it is, or is likely to be, wrongfully inhaled, and is now classed as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Those found in unlawful possession will face either an unlimited fine, a visible community punishment or a caution – which would appear on their criminal record. Repeat serious offenders may face a prison sentence of up to two years, an unlimited fine, or both. As for the penalty for supply or production, this will double to up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
The use of nitrous oxide for the other applications mentioned earlier (medicine, food and automotive industry), will remain legal.
As a direct result of the change in legislation, people who will keep buying and using nitrous oxide as a drug will now be trying their best to dispose of canisters covertly and, of course, illegally. This will cause an increase in the quantities of the usual piles of canisters we see across our recreation parks and bins.
Nitrous Oxide Waste
In an ever suffering planet, the waste produced by nitrous oxide canisters is another problem. As the gas is kept under pressure, these canisters need to be quite strong. The preferred metal manufacturers use for this application is steel, which is a 100% recyclable material. In fact, steel is one of the most recycled materials globally and, as a ferrous metal (which means it contains iron), it does not degrade during the recycling process. This allows for endless recycling without a significant loss of quality or performance, so recycled steel can be used to produce new steel products repeatedly.
The problem is that many Councils do not accept nitrous oxide canisters as waste, and don’t allow their disposal in domestic recycling bins either. Often this results in the hugely disappointing sight of canisters disposed of irresponsibly. That’s where our Nitrous Oxide Canisters Collection and Recycling service comes in.
Nitrous Oxide Canisters Collection Service and Recycling in Dorset
We have obtained all necessary permits from the Environment Agency to address the growing concern of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) canisters littering public spaces in Dorset. Our Collection and Recycling of Nitrous Oxide Canisters service includes:
- Secure Collection: Our trained personnel can collect nitrous oxide canisters directly from your location, ensuring safe and efficient removal.
- Secure Processing: We employ state-of-the-art methods to process and recycle nitrous oxide canisters in an environmentally friendly manner, adhering to all relevant regulations.
- Competitive Pricing: Regardless of the quantity of waste, we offer competitive quotes for both collection and delivery services.
To facilitate your decision-making process, we would be delighted to provide a quote tailored to your specific needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your requirements further.