THE discovery of a “gas den” has prompted fears solvent abuse is making a comeback.
Dozens of empty lighter fuel canisters were found among bushes in Dee Park in Shotton.
Councillors have spoken of the lethal effects of inhaling butane gas, which hit the headlines in the 1980s.
Experts say deaths from solvent abuse have been linked to physical activity, particularly among males.
Sealand councillor Christine Jones said she suspected gas sniffing was also taking place under the A494 bypass bridge.
“About 15 or 20 years ago it was rampant but then cannabis and other drugs took over,” she said.
“But now I fear aerosol sniffing is coming back. It’s gone full circle which is a major worry.
“You only have to do it once and it can kill you instantly.
”I knew a lad, he was only young and tried it for the first time and it killed him,” she said.
Volatile substance abuse (VSA) has killed 29 people in Wales in the last 20 years, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Cllr Elwyn Jones, who stumbled across the canisters in Dee Park, said he feared for the lives of those breathing in toxic fumes to get high.
“It’s not just one or two lighter fuel cans, there’s dozen’s. It’s like a den,” he said.
“I am concerned for the person who’s doing it because you can get instantaneous cardiac arrest.
“But I am also concerned for the children and families using the park because you don’t know what effect inhaling the stuff has on those doing it.
“It might make them violent, you just don’t know.”
Cllr Jones said tighter controls were needed to stop young people buying volatile substances.
“The problem is it’s so easy to get hold of,” she said.
Stephen Ream, of charity Re-Solv, said: “VSA is the most common form of substance misuse for 11 to 13-years-olds, and second only to cannabis for 14 and 15-year-olds.
“Sex-wise, usage statistics indicate a pretty even split between boys and girls, although the deaths statistics show that 85 per cent of those who have died are male.
“We are not sure why, although there are indications that physical activity often precedes death, so the scenario – lads messing around in a park – is a worrying one.
“The demographic of those dying from VSA has largely shifted over the last decade – what used to be a significant youth problem now seems to be more of an adult issue.
“We suspect that the generation who were abusing in the late 80s/early 90s have either continued to abuse or have gone back to the substances – although you will see a range of ages between 15 and 41.”
In 2010 the Welsh Government commissioned a specific VSA framework as part of the “Working together to reduce harm: The substance misuse strategy” guidance documents.