Letter: No laughing matter

Click to follow
Sir: Sorry to apply the wet blanket. Kevin Jackson's article about nitrous oxide ("What a gas!", 24 April) fails to reveal a more sinister property of the gas. As an atmospheric pollutant which acts as a greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide has a potency some thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.

Nitrous oxide is not produced in any quantity by natural processes, so it is only man-made nitrous oxide which can significantly contribute to climate change. Industrial operations which generate nitrous oxide as a waste material or by-product are, in the EU at least, now subject to stringent regulation to minimise its emission to atmosphere.

This is not to say that any responsible medical use of nitrous oxide should not continue. However, I regard it as inappropriate to promote nitrous oxide for recreational use by psycho-babblers and new-agers.