Inhalants are breathable chemical vapors that produce mind-altering effects.
Nearly all abused inhalants produce effects similar to anesthetics, which act to slow down the body’s functions. Sniffing chemicals can directly induce heart failure and death. Other irreversible effects caused by inhaling include hearing loss, limb spasms, central nervous system or brain damage, and bone marrow damage.
Other serious effects due to inhalants include liver and kidney damage, and blood oxygen depletion. Death from inhalants is caused by high concentration of fumes. This happens when a person deliberately inhales from an attached paper or plastic bag, which also increase the chances of suffocation.
In September 1999, an MIT student inhaled nitrous oxide in a plastic bag. The student inhaled the vapors, passed out, and suffocated to death.