Nitrate poppers, a fixture at many gay bars, clubs, and sex parties, are dangerous and potentially deadly, the Food and Drug Administration declared late last month.
Typically inhaled and offering a short, intense high that often includes sexual arousal and the relaxation of sphincter muscles, poppers are the informal name for alkyl nitrate. The small bottles are usually sold at adult novelty stores and sometimes even gas stations, though they are marketed as cleaning products or nail polish remover. Popular brand names include Buzz and Rush.
"The FDA has observed an increase in reports of deaths and hospitalizations with issues such as severe headaches, dizziness, increase in body temperature, difficulty breathing, extreme drops in blood pressure, blood oxygen issues (methemoglobinemia) and brain death after ingestion or inhalation of nitrite 'poppers,'" the agency announced on its website.
"The FDA will continue tracking reports of adverse events resulting from the ingestion or inhalation of nitrite 'poppers' and will take appropriate actions to protect the public health. The agency also has contacted its federal partners alerting them of the recent adverse event reports."
Though they are not formally illegal, the British government took action against poppers in 2016; an effort is on to clarify the legal status of poppers in the United Kingdom.