It's almost back to school, and that means it's crunch time for back-to-school shopping. So as you're sniffing out the good deals, you might catch a whiff of a familiar scene -- Sharpies.


When you were in elementary school, your teacher probably warned you a time or two not to smell Sharpies. But did the teacher say that to get you to pay attention, or is sniffing Sharpies really dangerous?


To verify this story, we consulted the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teachers, the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition and the Foundation for a Drug-Free World. We also talked to Moses Cone Hospital's injury prevention coordinator Leigha Jordan.

Jordan said the dangers of Sharpies and all other inhalants are very real.

"They (inhalants) are very common -- permanent markets, glues, cleaning fluids, whipped cream dispensers. Short-term health effects -- you'll feel those immediately. Long-term health effects, you'd see over a repeated period of time."

The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teachers says Sharpies contain volatile solvents, which are liquids that become gases at room temperatures. When inhaled, solvents produce a "high."

They can cause slurred speech, lack of coordination, euphoria and dizziness, and even Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. Repeated sniffing of inhalants can harm your vital organs.

According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, a U.S. survey found by the time students reach the eighth grade, one in five will have used inhalants to get high. Every year, more than one million U.S. kids ages 12 to 17 use inhalants.


We can verify it's true -- smelling an inhalant like a Sharpie can have serious health consequences. We also learned some districts -- like Alamance-Burlington Schools -- don't include permanent markets on supply lists.

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