Health Canada

Health Canada

June 05, 2013 10:00 ET

Various Dangerous "Poppers" Products Found at Calgary Retailer

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 5, 2013) -

The issue:

Eight products (see list below) labelled as leather cleaners or liquid incense contain, or allege to contain, alkyl nitrites were being sold by Saints N Sinners Ltd, 1715 Centre Street N.W., Calgary, Alberta. These products, commonly known as "poppers" are used by consumers to get "high" and may pose serious risks to health if they are inhaled or swallowed.

Who is affected:

Canadians who have used any of these products, particularly people with certain medical conditions (including recent head trauma, bleeding into the head, glaucoma, heart disease) and those taking certain medications (particularly drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction, and other drugs such as high blood pressure medications, certain migraine drugs, and high doses of aspirin) or illicit drugs.

What consumers should do:

  • Consult your healthcare practitioner if you have used any of these products.
  • If you have been harmed by using any of these products, report it to Health Canada.
  • Contact Health Canada's toll-free line at 1-800-267-9675 with questions or complaints about these products.

What Health Canada is doing:

Health Canada has followed-up with Saints N Sinners Ltd, 1715 Centre Street N.W., Calgary, Alberta and removed the products from sale. Health Canada is also working with the Canada Border Services Agency to stop any shipments of any of these products from entering Canada.


Alkyl nitrites, such as amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite, are considered drugs under the Food and Drugs Act, and require an approval by Health Canada to be legally sold in Canada. Health Canada is not aware of credible evidence confirming that alkyl nitrites are legitimately used in consumer products such as leather cleaners, room odourizers or liquid incense. Health Canada's view is that even though these products are labelled as consumer products, they are manufactured and sold so that users can "get a high".

Products containing alkyl nitrites could pose serious risks, including death, to Canadians, depending on the amount used, how frequently they are used and how long they are used for, as well as the person's health and the other medications they may be taking. Since it is difficult to control how much is inhaled, people can accidentally overdose. Swallowing these products can lead to serious medical complications and may be fatal.

Serious side effects can include: potentially life-threatening low blood pressure, especially when used with drugs to treat erectile dysfunction (sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil); rapid or irregular heart rhythm; and a decrease in the blood's ability to carry oxygen (methemoglobinemia) when used at high doses or repeatedly over a long period. Other side effects include difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, loss of consciousness (fainting or passing out), respiratory depression, and damage to the liver or kidney.

People with glaucoma, recent head trauma or bleeding into the head are also at risk, as are those using certain drugs for high blood pressure, migraines, and high doses of aspirin.

Alcohol may make the side effects of "poppers" worse, as could their use with illicit drugs. Inhaled alkyl nitrites can cause harm to the fetus during pregnancy. Users of inhaled alkyl nitrites have also suffered burns as the vapour is highly flammable.

Photos of the products affected are available at the following address:

For more information:

Consumers and health professionals wanting more information about this advisory from Health Canada can contact the Public Enquiries Line at 613-957-2991, or toll free at 1-866-225-0709.

Media enquiries related to this Advisory should be directed to Health Canada Media Relations at 613-957-2983.

How to report side effects to health products:

  • Call toll-free at 1-866-234-2345
  • Visit MedEffect Canada's web page on Adverse Reaction Reporting for information on how to report online, by mail or by fax.

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Contact Information

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