(CBS) — It’s difficult to detect, easy to find, and can kill you the first time you try it. What’s worse, the biggest abusers are 8th-graders.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports on the newest high, which is called “dusting,” and what parents can look for to protect their children.
What is dusting? It’s getting high by inhaling computer dust cleaner, which comes in a spray can.
It’s what prosecutors say 18-year-old Carly Rousso was doing when she allegedly plowed her car onto the sidewalk, killing Jaclyn Santos Sacramento on Labor Day.
Back in April, Karli Casey — 19 at the time — was accused of dusting when she drove her vehicle into oncoming traffic, seriously injuring an elderly woman.
And last month, Thomas Murphy pleaded guilty in a crash that killed a middle-aged woman. Police found cans of computer dust cleaner in his car.
YouTube videos show the popularity of dusting even behind the wheel.
But an alarming 2011 study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows 8th-graders are the biggest abusers of this common household cleaner.
Dr. Michael Wahl, Medical Director of the Illinois Poison Center said it’s attractive to kids because the products are relatively easy to get.
“Buy a can, buy a case and get high,” he says of young peoples’ mindset.
The computer dusters are so powerful a person could die the first time they try getting high.
“They affect your heart in such a way so that is it more likely to beat irregularly,” Wahl says.
Shawnda Hunt’s 18-year-old son, Aaron, died in 2010 from inhaling something just as dangerous: propane.
“He got really thin. I mean, really thin,” she says.
When she confronted her son, he denied using inhalants. But after he died, she found empty cans.
Jonathan Hunt not only lost his brother, he lost his best friend. His advice to kids who are thinking about dusting: “It’s just pointless and dumb.”
Shawnda Hunt adds: “I don’t want other parent to have to feel this.”
Experts point out these warning signs that your child may be abusing dusting spray: sudden weight loss, changes in mood, changes in friendships, acting confused and rebellious.
As a result of the recent cases, officers will now be taking take a blood test immediately from anyone suspected of dusting and driving.