A health warning has been issued after dozens of laughing gas canisters were found around Workington.

Nitrous Oxide is a gas which if inhaled can distort perceptions, however a doctor at a mental health trust has warned it could cause damage to the body as well as being dangerous when taken with alcohol.

The canisters were found both at Mansion Gardens, in Workington, as well as at Meadow Vale in Seaton.

Resident Brenda Seavor-Clague took it upon herself to remove the ones at Mansion Garden with a litter picker.

She said: “I didn’t do it for praise, I was worried about children and dogs picking them up.”

Dr Tracey Myton, consultant in addiction psychiatry for Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, which oversees the work Unity does in Cumbria, said: “Nitrous oxide is a gas, the use of which seems to be increasingly popular with young people. It distorts perceptions and sometimes makes people laugh; hence it is nicknamed laughing gas. It can initially cause feelings of well-being and relaxation but then can also cause people to feel dizzy, anxious and hear or see things which are unreal and frightening.

“The main danger after taking nitrous oxide is that these altered feelings and perceptions may lead to careless risk-taking behaviour, falls and accidents.

“The gas is contained within small silver-coloured canisters about 10cm long.Unfortunately it is common to see these opened canisters around the streets in Workington. The gas inside is at high pressure so it is dangerous to inhale it directly because the high pressure can damage the throat or lungs. It is usually released into a plastic bag or balloon and then inhaled. Too much nitrous oxide can lead to unconsciousness and there is a danger of the bag or balloon getting stuck and causing suffocation.

“Young people sometimes drink alcohol then use nitrous oxide. This is particularly dangerous as intoxication with both substances together increases the risk of accidents or losing consciousness.”

Ms Seavor-Clague said she was disappointed to see the area littered with the canisters after all the efforts of Workington Nature Partnership to preserve Mansion Gardens.

A spokesman for Allerdale council said: “We’d encourage all residents across Allerdale to dispose of any litter properly by placing it in a nearby bin or by taking the items home if one isn’t immediately available. By doing this we can all play a part in helping keep our communities and green spaces clean and safe for everyone. If you do see any litter or fly-tipping on our streets then please report it to us through our website or the myAllerdale mobile app.”

Anyone who is concerned about themselves or a loved one can contact Unity www.gmmh.nhs.uk/unity or CADAS at www.cadas.co.uk.