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Research Summary

Computer Duster-Spray Inhalation Common among Antisocial Adolescents

Inhalant abuse is a common and underappreciated problem among adolescents, particularly those who exhibit antisocial behavior. Computer duster spray (CDS) contains halogenated hydrocarbons, and there have been reports of its abuse among youth. To investigate this further, researchers analyzed data from 723 adolescents (ages 13–17, 87% male) housed in 32 Missouri Division of Youth Services residential treatment facilities in 2004 due to antisocial behavior.

  • Approximately 1 in 7 youths (15%) reported prior CDS use. Of these, 91% reported that they “got high” when they inhaled CDS, and 13% reported using CDS over 100 times.
  • Most of those who used CDS (59%) sprayed it directly into their mouths; 6% inhaled it from a bag, and 6% inhaled it from a saturated cloth.
  • Compared with nonusers, CDS users were more likely to be older, white, and to live in a small town. They also had higher levels of lifetime suicidality, prior trauma, current psychiatric symptoms, and antisocial traits as well as more severe substance use problems.


This study suggests CDS inhalation may be a serious problem, particularly among rural youth who exhibit antisocial behavior. It is not clear to what extent this is an emerging problem versus a continuation of an old problem; i.e., the replacement of a previously abused inhalant, such as video-head cleaner, with a newly available one. Darius A. Rastegar, MD


Garland EL, Howard MO. Inhalation of computer duster spray among adolescents: an emerging public health threat? Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2010;36(6):320–324.