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11-year-old U.K. boy dies after trying dangerous TikTok trend

By Mitchell Consky

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    TORONTO (CTV Network) — An 11-year-old boy in the U.K. died last week after participating in a dangerous social media trend that can pose major health risks.

Tommie-Lee Gracie Billington, suffered a suspected cardiac arrest on Saturday after taking part in what TikTok users call “chroming,” his family told local media.

Chroming, also known as “huffing,” is the act of inhaling the fumes of household chemicals such as nail polish remover, hairspray, aerosol deodorant or permanent markers.

Chroming has recently gained attention thanks to social media apps including TikTok, but it’s not a new activity for teens. For example, a U.S. report estimated that 684,000 adolescents engaged in huffing or sniffing chemicals in 2015.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), certain chemical vapours and toxic fumes produce a high when breathed in.

“Most of the substances used as inhalants, such as glue, gasoline, cleaning solvents and aerosols, have legitimate everyday uses, but they were never meant for human consumption,” CAMH said in a post online.

As for why they’re popular with teens, “inhalants are cheap, legal and easy to get. They have a high potential for abuse — especially by children and young adults,” CAMH said.

CAMH reported the majority of people who use solvents and aerosols in this way are between 10 and 16 years old.

While used for the high they can provide, the American Addiction Centers warns these inhalants can also lead to dizziness, vomiting and even cardiac failure and brain damage.

A study published in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Research found that long-term effects could include memory loss, an inability to concentrate and impaired judgment.

The death of the U.K. boy is the second to make headlines in as many years. In 2023, 13-year-old Esra Haynes also died after inhaling chemicals from a deodorant can in Australia, 7News reported.

Billington’s mother set up an online fundraiser to help with funeral costs, which raised more than £4,000, and offered contributors a chance to leave their condolences.

“No parent should ever have to experience the pain of losing a child,” wrote one commenter.

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ctvnews.caproducers@bellmedia.ca

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