What is chroming? Viral social media challenge explained as 13-year-old dies

Australian teen died after participating in TikTok trendA Current Affair

A social media trend known as “chroming” has been named the cause of death of a 13-year-old student from Australia. But what exactly is chroming? Here’s everything you need to know.

There is a new drug fad that is gaining popularity among Gen Z and Gen Alpha, and parents are concerned about it – and for a good reason.

Esra Haynes, 13, an eighth-grade student from Melbourne, Australia, passed away on 31 March 2023, from chemical exposure while at a sleepover. She was taking part in a TikTok trend called ‘chroming’ as she sniffed an aerosol deodorant.

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After participating in the activity, Haynes suffered irreparable brain damage and a cardiac arrest, according to The Sun. She was hospitalized for a week before she died.

Haynes’ parents are now warning others of the risks associated with chroming, which has grown popular on social media. Paul Haynes said on the Australian TV show ‘A Current Affair‘: “Esra would’ve never have done this if she’d had known the consequences. That it could take your life.”

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“The ripple effect is that this is absolutely devastating, we’ve got no child to bring home,” Andrea Haynes added. 

What is the chroming challenge on social media?

The word ‘chroming’ is an informal word that originates from Australia. It refers to the act of inhaling the fumes from a toxic source, such as an aerosol can, a spray deodorant, or a paint container. 

On TikTok, users engaging in ‘chroming’ post videos under the term ‘WhipTok’, a slang term for the recreational use of nitrous oxide. ‘Whiptok’ has over 546.3 million views on the platform.

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According to the National Retail Association in Australia, even if the term “chroming” has expanded, the term first originated from the practice of sniffing chrome-based paint to achieve a high. Some examples of toxic chemicals used are aerosol cans, paint, solvent, permanent markers, nail polish remover, hairspray, deodorants, lighter fluid, glue, cleaning supplies, nitrous oxide, and gasoline.

What are the risks of chroming?

Chroming involves inhaling toxic substances to create a temporary high. It gives a temporary high, similar to the effects of alcohol. 

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However, the activity can result in deadly side effects. These include heart attack, seizures, suffocation, coma, choking, or fatal injury, and can cause permanent organ damage.

Long-term abuse of the drug can also lead to cognitive impairment, including the inability to concentrate, memory loss, impaired judgment, and a lower IQ, according to the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Research.

Another teen dies as a possible result of TikTok “chroming” challenge

In September 2023, another teen died as a possible result of the TikTok “chroming” fad, with Irish authorities investigating the death of 14-year-old Sarah Mescall.

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According to reports from the Irish Independent, Mescall passed away on September 25, three days after being admitted to Crumlin Children’s Hospital in Dublin. She reportedly collapsed after allegedly partaking in the “chroming” challenge and woke up at some point to tell her mother what happened before fainting again.

Mescall was then placed into a medically-induced coma and succumbed to her injuries.

TikTok responds to death of teen from supposed “chroming” challenge

TikTok has released a statement in response to Mescall’s death. “Content of this nature is prohibited on our platform and would be removed if found,” the statement said.

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“We will continue to prioritize protecting and supporting our community, working with expert partners and providing safety resources to those who need them.”

This is not the only dangerous trend that has gone viral on the platform. Although TikTok has taken action to prevent these trends from spreading in some cases. They have also removed hashtags that can help them grow. But it’s not always enough. Here’s a list of some of the most dangerous or controversial trends that have appeared on TikTok.

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