THE discovery of ‘laughing gas’ canisters outside a school has led to warnings about the potential dangers of using the legal high.

Half a dozen nitrous oxide gas canisters were reportedly found discarded outside St Peter’s Primary School in Askam, with parents labelling the issue as a ‘frequent problem’ in the village.

Nitrous oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’ or ‘hippy crack’, is a colourless gas that has legal uses but is frequently misused as a ‘party drug’.

Ben Shirley, Barrow Borough Councillor for Askam and Ireleth, has condemned the discovery of gas canisters in the village as ‘unsafe and illegal’.

He said: “Clearly these things aren’t toys and shouldn’t be messed with

“It’s unnecessary, dangerous and is becoming a public nuisance.

“I’m aware through multiple reports from local residents of the apparent misuse of these cartridges in Askam and Ireleth.

“Aside from the unsightly littering that they bring about, these things are unsafe and illegal, when used in this way, for a reason.

“It’s more alarming that given the location of where these are being found, it is more than likely that users are possibly getting behind a wheel of a car or motorcycle which puts the wider community at risk.

“It’s unacceptable these canisters have been found outside a school - it sets a totally wrong example for primary school children

“It’s the last thing families want to see when dropping their kids off

“It’s totally wrong and shouldn’t be happening anywhere.

“I’m working with the local police to identify the users and hope we can work together to stop it from happening.”

The gas is inhaled, typically by discharging nitrous gas cartridges into another object, such as a balloon, or directly into the mouth

Inhaling nitrous oxide produces a rapid rush of euphoria and feeling of floating or excitement for a short period of time.

However, the substance has been linked to serious side effects including numbness, blurred vision, confusion, dizziness and/or light-headedness, sweating, feeling unusually tired or weak and sudden death.

According to reports, ‘hippy crack’ was used by an estimated 569,000 people aged 16 to 24 in 2016-17. Laughing gas was made illegal to sell for human consumption, along with other so-called legal highs, in 2016.

That is when the Psychoactive Substances Act was brought in.

But it is freely advertised online, generally for the production of whipped cream.

Websites selling it state that it is only available for over-18s and is for food and beverage preparation only.

Between 2006 and 2012 there were 17 deaths in the UK related to the use of laughing gas, according to research.

The majority of those deaths are said to be down to asphyxiations caused by people using plastic bags to inhale the gas.