Mirror Services manager Deb Fraser (front) and Dunedin
staff (from left) Jenna Dickson, Blondie Ngamoki, Tangi
Noomotu and Piripi Matthew provide youth alcohol and drug
programmes in Dunedin and Waitati. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Volatile liquids and gases have caused the largest number
of unintentional deaths from poisoning in young New Zealand
children, a Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee report
The recently released report, ''Unintentional deaths from
poisoning in young people'', showed that nine children under
the age of 15 died from unintentional poisoning between 2002
Seven of the deaths - those of a 9-year-old boy, a
13-year-old girl and five 14-year-old boys - were from the
recreational use of butane, lpg, or other hydrocarbons. All
the deaths were deemed as unintentional or of undetermined
intent, the report said.
Health Quality and Safety Commission chairman Prof Alan Merry
said the abuse of gases and volatile liquids, such as butane,
was more common among younger adolescents. Young adults used
controlled or regulated substances.
Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee chairman Dr Nick
Baker said it was alarming how easily children could obtain
The report revealed it was easy for young people to buy, or
steal, butane cans from retailers, including dairies.
A national prevention strategy was needed to reduce the
demand for and access to volatile substances.
The screening and intervention for at-risk youth needed
improvement and young people, their families and the
community in general needed to be made more aware of the
National Poisons Centre director Wayne Temple said the report
recommendations were ''sound''.
''It is difficult to know what motivates people to sniff
butane and creating strategies to deal with it are
That a 9-year-old boy had died from poisoning did not
surprise him, he said.
''Nothing surprises me where poisoning is concerned.''
Mirror Services manager Deb Fraser said such deaths were
''And it's not just the deaths; it's the 2250 that end up in
hospital beds from unintentional poisoning.''
Children experimented with substances and the community
needed to be aware of the risks associated with volatile
liquids and gases being so readily available.