Compressed Gas Dusting Injuries

Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs are investigating cases of “dusting,” in which someone inhales, or “huffs,” compressed gas dusting spray for its intoxicating effects while driving and then strikes another driver or pedestrian, causing severe injury or killing that bystander.

What is compressed gas dusting spray?

A compressed gas dusting spray is often marketed for use as a dust and lint remover for electronics. The dusting sprays work by blowing a stream of high pressure gas out of an aerosol-style can to clear dust from the surface of whatever device is being cleaned. These sprays are often referred to as “dust-off,” though there have been many different manufacturers of the product over the years. The two most common brand names are “Dust-Off” and “Ultra Duster,” however other brands exist, such as those manufactured by 3M.

Compressed gas dusting sprays are often erroneously referred to as “canned air” or “compressed air” when they do not contain any air whatsoever. The active ingredient in these sprays is 1-1, difluoroethane (or “DFE”). DFE is a refrigerant-based propellant often added to other products such as shaving cream to propel the product out of the can. In the case of compressed gas dusting sprays, the DFE is the only product in the can.

What are the effects of compressed gas abuse?

DFE is not a harmless gas. Inhaling the gas, often referred to as “dusting,” causes a near-immediate narcotic-like effect for brief period that often causes the inhaler to pass out nearly instantly. We have seen evidence of widespread abuse of this product nationwide due to its low cost and ease of purchase without restrictions in most jurisdictions, making it easily accessible to children and adolescents.

Huffing can produce a sense of euphoric high with delusions and hallucinations, a high that can last between 15 and 30 minutes. The euphoric effect of dusting is often followed by dizziness, loss of coordination and control, suffocation, loss of consciousness, and even death.

Huffing DFE has harmful effects beyond the inhaler. When a person huffs while driving, they may lose coordination and control of their vehicle, striking other vehicles or pedestrians. This can result in injuries and death to innocent bystanders, devastating lives and families.

Have You Been Injured by Someone Under the Influence of Compressed Gas?

These injuries and deaths are entirely preventable. Manufacturers of these dusting sprays have been aware of those inhaling them for intoxicating effects for years. A bitterant was added to deter people from huffing, but it has been effectively useless. We’ve also seen evidence that demonstrates that both the manufacturers and retailers selling the dusting sprays have known for years of the intoxicating effects, yet continue to sell them without regard for the ineffective warning and defective design.

At Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, we are dedicated to holding the compressed gas dusting spray manufacturers and retailers accountable for the deaths and injuries innocent bystanders have suffered as a result of the completely preventable misuse of their products.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a driver who was under the influence of compressed air, our dedicated and skilled attorneys can help you seek compensation. Call us at 855.954.1186 or contact us online.