TikTok is a great place for sharing content and ideas - and sometimes these ideas become so popular that they trend. Some of these trends are positive, such as the ice bucket challenge which raised awareness of a health condition and money for charity. But, sadly there are many trends which have negative consequences.
In fact, some trends have been attributed to the deaths or serious harm of many teenagers in the UK and the US. There are, sadly, many examples, such as Leon Brown, who lost his life last year after attempting the blackout challenge, Mason Dark, who suffered three degree burns after taking part in the aerosol challenge, Jacob Stevens who died after trying the Benadryl challenge and Christy Sibali Dominique Gloire Gassaille who died after taking part in the scarf challenge. And it was thought Archie Battersbee had also taken part in the blackout challenge, before a coroner ruled this out.
Now, another challenge has been linked to the death of another young girl. This one is called the chroming challenge. So, just what is the chroming challenge and what are the dangers with it? Here’s what you need to know.
Warning: Please do not take part in the challenge described in this article as it could cause serious harm and may even be fatal.
What is the TikTok chroming challenge?
The chroming challenge involves people inhaling fumes from a toxic source, such as an aerosol can, a spray deodorant, or a paint container or a glue or solvent product. The intention is for people to achieve a high, but it is a very dangerous trend. According to national drugs and alcohol helpline Talk To Frank, it can be hard to get the dose right to achieve the desired high, however, and a little too much can result in a coma or even death.
Chroming is an Australian slang word for carrying out this act. The term originally came from the practice of inhaling a chrome-based paint, according to the National Retail Association in Australia, but soon began to be used to refer to sniffing any volatile substances. On TikTok, some users post videos under the term ‘WhipTok’, a slang term for the recreational use of nitrous oxide. Chroming is also known as huffing, sniffing or rexing.
What happened to Esra Haynes?
Esra Haynes was a 13-year-old Australian teenager. According to The Sun, she had been at a sleepover when she inhaled toxic fumes. She then went into cardiac arrest and suffered irreparable brain damage. She spent a week in hospital before she died.
Haynes’ parents Paul and Andrea have warned others against taking part in this trend. "Esra would've never have done this if she'd had known the consequences. That it could take your life," Paul told A Current Affair. Andrea added: "The ripple effect is that this is absolutely devastating, we've got no child to bring home.”
Haynes’ sister, Imogen, also told 7News: “We definitely have a mission to raise awareness for kids and anyone that does it. We don’t want that to happen to anyone else. We don’t want another family to go through this, it’s absolutely horrible.”
What have health professionals said about the chroming challenge?
Health experts have long warned about the dangers of inhaling toxic substances.
Ashley Martin, public health adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents RoSPA, spoke out after a teenage girl in the UK died after inhaling deodorant. He said: "It's easy to assume they are completely safe and totally free from risk. The truth is they're not. Inhaling large quantities of aerosols, not just deodorants, can lead to a whole host of life-endangering scenarios - from blackouts and breathing difficulties, to heart rhythm changes and sadly, death.”
There are over 50 deaths a year involving glues, gases, solvents and aerosols, according to Talk To Frank. Even if the act of chroming is not fatal for a person, inhaling glues, gases, solvents or aerosols can cause confusion, slurred speech, mood swings, aggressive behaviour, hallucinations, vomiting, disorientation, confusion, fainting, blackouts and breathing difficulties. They can also cause the heart to go out of rhythm, which if severe, can lead to a heart attack. Long-term solvent use can also damage the muscles, liver and kidneys. People can also end up in a coma because of this action.
The National Retail Association in Australia issued a simple but stark warning: “People are risking their lives every time they chrome.”
What has TikTok said about the chroming challenge?
TikTok has not commented specifically on the scarf challenge, but they have issued general guidance regarding following trends on their website, as part of their community guidelines.
The message reads: “Some online challenges can be dangerous, disturbing, or even fabricated. Learn how to recognize harmful challenges so you can protect your health and well-being”. People are also advised to think about whether or not the people in the videos have special skills, if something could have gone wrong, and if they are confident that they will be safe if they do it themselves. Another message from TikTok reads “if a challenge is risky or harmful, or you are not sure if it is, don’t do it.”
There are some videos which still appear on the site with the hashtags #chroming and #chromingchallenge, but these show people warning against taking part in the challenge rather than actually taking part in it.