WHEATON, Ill. (AP) -- Nitrous oxide -- laughing gas -- could be to blame for
the deaths of three people in three months, said a DuPage County official who
warned people Friday not to misuse the gas.
Nitrous oxide is an anesthetic often used by dentists. It also is used as a
propellent for some food products such as whipped cream. When inhaled, it
creates a brief feeling of euphoria and hilarity.
Devan J. Bell, 19, of Wheaton was found dead June 28. There was no clear
cause of death but that Bell did have a history of seizures, and nitrous oxide
containers were found in the house where he was staying, said DuPage County
Coroner Richard R. Ballinger.
Jamie M. Cardi, 16, of Glen Ellyn was killed in an car crash July 14. A
passenger testified Cardi inhaled nitrous oxide from a balloon just before the
And Michael W. Counsell, 21, of Villa Park, described as an excellent
swimmer, drowned in a swimming pool during a party in Lombard July 29. Nitrous
oxide was being sold at the party, authorities said.
DuPage County usually sees one nitrous oxide poisoning every two to three
years, Ballinger said.
"To have three deaths in this short period of time is unconscionable," he
said. "That the means the usage out here in the general public is very large."