Dust-off is a refrigerant-based dust cleaner brand that people use to blow dust particles from household items. The dust cleaner can effectively remove dust from keyboards, computers, photography equipment, blinds, windows, and many other items.
Manufactured by Falcon Safety Products, Dust-off was first introduced in 1970. The product was originally targeted to photographers to clear dust from negatives and other photographic equipment. Later on, with the introduction of PCs, Falcon introduced Dust-Off II marketed as a cleaning product to remove dust from keyboards, fans, screens, and CPUs.
A lot of teenagers reportedly inhaled Dust-off to get high!
The active ingredient in Dust-Off is difluoroethane, which is highly addictive. This compound has been linked to a number of deaths in the US. In this blog post, we will take a look at the dangers of this compound and the product liability cases filed against the manufacturer.
The Extent of Dust-Off Abuse Revealed
Many teenagers abuse inhalants that produce mind-altering effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), around 10 percent of teenagers have misused inhalants due to their psychoactive effects.
Dust-off is particularly susceptible to abuse due to the addictive active compound of difluoroethane — a colorless liquefied hydrocarbon gas. Studies have shown that the compound, when inhaled, can result in disastrous health effects. Inhaling large quantities of the compound can result in irregular heartbeats, unconsciousness, and even death.
The compound present in the can also produce delusions and hallucination. Moreover, studies have shown that inhaling the compound can result in dizziness, slurred speech, and clouded judgment. However, to the dismay of health officials, the abuse of inhalers such as Dust-off is on the rise in the US.
Many terms are used to describe the use of inhalants to get high. Huffing is the process of breathing directly from the can or through a cloth that is soaked in the solvent. Bagging, on the other hand, is the process of inhaling the substance after placing in a paper bag or plastic. Thrill-seekers who bag and huff the compound put themselves at increased risk of serious injuries or death.
‘Huffing’ a can of Dust-off is said to produce an immediate feeling of euphoria. According to a Mayo Clinic report, the feeling of ‘high’ can last between 15 and 30 minutes.
Easy availability is one reason for the abuse of Dust-off cans. The product can be purchased from any department store for just $20. Many households have the product that is accessible to children and teens, which are the main group who huff to get high. A report from the National Capital Poison Center found that nearly 20 percent of eighth graders had reported huffing to get a feeling of euphoria. This is an alarming statistic since as little as one can be deadly.
Dangerous Health Effects of Dust-Off Explained
Dust-Off can result in various health problems. Inhaling the product can result in heart failure even when using it for the first time. The active compound present in the dust cleaner disrupts the normal functioning of the heart. The compound can result in life-threatening conditions.
This trend of inhaling dust remover known as a dusting was first reported in the media in 1996. In 2012, a boy had died after inhaling 40 cans of a dust remover in just one day. Another boy who had purchased the dust remover from Wal-Mart was found dead in the parking lot.
According to the National Institute of Drug abuse (NIDA), every year about 200 people die in the US due to abuse of inhalants. There are reports of individuals suffering from arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, and enhanced myocardial sensitization due to inhalant abuse.
Some of the other dangerous health effects of inhalant abuse exposed by studies include the following.
- Pain in chest
- Loss of motor control and coordination
- Loss of consciousness
- Injury due to impaired cognitive functions
Dust-off is also a refrigerant. As a result, the abuse of the inhalant can result in frostbite of the mouth, lips, and throat. The inhalant may be a cheap way to get high, but the consequences are deadly.
Dust-Off Abuse Product Liability Lawsuits
Falcon, the manufacturer of Dust-off, is well aware of the dangers of potential abuse. As a result, the company has printed inhalant abuse safety information on the back of the product warning users about the harmful effects of inhaling and abusing the compound.
Since the manufacturer clearly warns users of the potential abuse of the product, there have not been a lot of lawsuits against the company for Dust-off abuse.
In 2009, a case was filed against the company in California. But the case was about selling non-compliant Dust-Off cleaner and Office Max with high volatile organic compound (VOC) that exceeded the limit for general purpose cleaners in violation of Title 17, California Code of Regulations (CCR), Section 94509(a). The company was found guilty of failure to submit a report about the product. As a result, the company had to pay $11,160 to settle the case.
One recent case in which a plaintiff had indirectly sued the company was Allen v. Wal-Mart Stores, LLC. The plaintiff had accused Wal-Mart of selling Dust-Off to a teenage girl who had died due to the inhalant abuse. The plaintiff had accused Wal-Mart that it had known that the product contained a dangerous compound that was addictive and produced a state of euphoria.
The plaintiff in the case was the mother of the teenager who had died after inhaling multiple cans of Dust-off. Wal-Mart was accused of selling products that the company knew was susceptible to young individuals. But the claim of the plaintiff was rejected on the grounds that Wal-Mart or the manufacturer had no liability for abuse of the dust cleaner.
Falcon has done a lot in deterring the abuse of Dust-Off. The manufacturer states in its website that inhaling or abusing the dust cleaner can result in serious injury and even death. The company had also added a bitterant compound to the product to make it less palatable. Moreover, the company has taken part in an inhalant abuse program providing information about the abuse of 1400 products.
Using Dust-off Responsibly To Prevent Injuries or Death
Huffing is a dangerous trend that can result in life-threatening conditions. The threat is not limited to Dust-Off dust cleaner, and cannot be addressed by banning the product. The fact is there are many other products that teens and young children use to get a feeling of euphoria.
Teens abuse inhalants such as Dust-off and many other products that are found commonly in US households. Abuse of the product can easily end the life of an individual. Dust-off is just one of the products that have the potential of abuse. Many aerosol whipped cream and hairspray contain the active compound found in Dust-off.