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L.A. honours student dies after 'huffing' cleaning solvent

By Arthur Weinreb     Mar 22, 2013 in Health
Los Angeles - Aria Doherty, a 14-year-old Grade 8 honours student, died from apparent cardiac arrest after she inhaled a solvent to get high.
It's called "huffing." Done mainly by young people, it's when someone inhales chemical vapors in order to get high.
Aria was found dead in her bed Monday night with her nostrils taped shut. Aria's mother, Carolyn, said, "My older daughter went to go check on her and came out screaming 'I think she's dead.' We found her just lying there with a can of inhalant still attached to her." The can of compressed air computer keyboard cleaner was in the teen's mouth.
Although no official cause of death has yet been determined, it is believed the student at the Nobel Charter Middle School died of cardiac arrest after she inhaled the solvent.
Derek Horowitz, a spokesperson with the Los Angeles United School District said of Aria, "She was a jewel of a student." He described the straight-A student as being very popular and nurturing. She took part in many school plays and recently portrayed the Wicked Witch of the West in the school's production of The Wizard of Oz.
According to a 2007 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 1.1 million children engage in huffing. Almost 5% of girls and 4.2% of boys between the ages of 12 and 17 take part in the practice.
Products used in huffing include aerosol air fresheners, hairspray, nail polish, paint solvents and lighter fluid. The results can be fatal.
Kezia Miller, a counsellor with the Los Angeles Unified School District said, "Death can happen very quickly. It can happen the first time. These are substances that are poison. They're toxic and they're being ingested."
While the short-term effects of huffing can cause cardiac problems, the long-term effects can include damage to the kidneys, brain and liver.
Aria's devastated parents, Carolyn and Richard, are speaking out in the hopes the word will get out to other parents and further senseless tragedies can be prevented. The Dohertys have no dangerous weapons or alcohol in their home. They keep prescription medication locked up and talked to all their teen daughters about the dangers of substance abuse. Said Richard, "We had no idea how toxic this drug could be."
Aria's death came just days after another California girl, 12-year-old Kristal Salcido, died after being taken off life support. Kristal had been declared brain-dead after inhaling Freon from air conditioning units.
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