FEARS have been raised that youngsters in the Five Valleys are putting their lives at risk by taking laughing gas as a legal high.

It follows the discovery of around 30 spent canisters of nitrous oxide just yards away from a children’s play area in the Forest Green area on Saturday, August 9.

Used balloons and packaging associated with the potentially lethal substance was also found on the roadside off Bunting Way by district councillors Elizabeth Peters and Emma Simms.

“We found the bulbs of laughing gas and the cardboard box with the packaging not far from the Multi Use Games Area,” said Cllr Peters.

“This is the first time I have come across it. It was a shock and it upsets me to think that people need to drink and take drugs because life is precious and as far as I know the side-effects of laughing gas can be quite dangerous.”

The discovery came on the same day that the Local Government Association issued a public health warning about the dangers posed by laughing gas.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said: “In the past officers have occasionally found evidence of people using nitrous oxide as a recreational drug and we advise people to be aware of the dangers of inhaling nitrous oxide.

“We would also remind local shopkeepers that nitrous oxide chargers can only be sold to those who are over 18 and that they should not sell them to anyone they believe will inhale the gas for recreational purposes.”