The nitrous oxide-filled balloons, known as funky balls, have recently inspired a “fever” amongst youngsters in Hà Nội, although experts have issued warnings of addictive affects and negative impacts on the nervous system. — Photo tienphong.vn
HÀ NỘI — The nitrous oxide-filled balloons, known as funky balls, have recently inspired a “fever” amongst youngsters in Hà Nội, although experts have issued warnings of addictive affects and negative impacts on the nervous system.
Nitrous oxide is also known as laughing gas, thus, when youngsters inhale the gas from funky balloons, they burst into laughter, report Tiền Phong (Vanguard) online newspaper.
It is easy to buy funky balls at bars, pubs, and even order them via Facebook pages to be delivered to your house. Balloons cost between VNĐ30,000-150,000 (US$1.3-7) each, depending on their size.
Nguyễn Quang Hùng, a student from the University of Construction, said he and his friends often go to a karaoke venue on Nguyễn Khang Street at the weekend to enjoy the funky balls.
“I feel very high when inhaling the gas from the ball. All my worries seem to vanished,” he said.
Doctor Nguyễn Anh Vũ, from the Hà Nội University of Science and Technology’s School of Chemical Engineering, said nitrous oxide creates an instant refreshing feeling, dizziness and blocks the nervous system, reducing the ability to think, distorting sound and even causing visual hallucinations.
A person exposed to nitrous oxide in a closed room or inhaling it directly would suffer from a lack of oxygen in their bloodstream, he said.
According to scientists, young women were advised to avoid exposure to nitrous oxide because it might lead to fertility problems. For a normal person, inhaling the laughing gas regularly could affect their nervous system, he said.
Vũ also said selling nitrous oxide for recreational purposes, [the UK’s second most used recreational drug – taken by 400,000 young people in 2014], was officially banned in 2015 in Britain. Fines can be as high as GBP1,000 ($1,250).
Associate Professor Phùng Trung Tập, a lecturer from the Hà Nội University of Law, advised that until now; there has been no official conclusion from authorised agencies about the dangerous effects of inhaling nitrous oxide from funky balls in Việt Nam.
Therefore, it is hard to prohibit its recreational use at the moment, he said.
Nitrous oxide is a colourless and sweet tasting gas that has been used recreationally since the late 18th century. Medical use was established in the early 20th century and nitrous oxide remains an important anaesthetic, tranquilliser and painkiller, used by dentists, obstetricians and sports doctors. — VNS