A WARNING has been issued for people to avoid inhaling gas from tiny cannisters that have been found on a popular footpath.

The cannisters, which are full of nitrous oxide or 'laughing gas', were found along the footpath leading to Back Lane, in Baxenden, on Sunday morning.

The gas, also known as ‘hippy crack’ and which is used as an anaesthetic for dentist work or childbirth, has become hugely popular in the last few years, and can be purchased cheaply online.

Kimberley Whitehead, from Accrington who made the discovery while taking part in a litter pick of the area, is now warning people to be aware of the dangers of nitrous oxide.

Ms W hitehead said: "As part of the Keep Britain Tidy, Great British Spring Clean which is taking place over the next month, I organised a community clean-up with a few of my friends and their children.

"We discovered the nitrous oxide cannisters along the path from the Bay Horse pub to the old Back Lane Park

"It was pretty shocking and this is a footpath used regularly by schoolchildren to get to Baxenden St John's primary school.

"We don't know whose behind it but it's probably groups of people congregating there.

"We also discovered beer cans and other rubbish around Southwood Drive."

Following their discovery, the group cleaned up the area and Ms Whitehead put all the cannisters into bottles.

She added: "There must have been a few hundred that I collected.

"I'd definitely say there is a problem with nitrous oxide cannisters nationally as they are easy to get hold of online and cheap to buy.

"We had to explain to the children who were involved in the litter pick about the dangers of them and not to touch them.

"These cannisters can be very dangerous and I'd like to warn people not to touch them and report any that they do find.

"It's very irresponsible of people to just dump them like this."

Ms Whitehead's discovery follows that of Chris Rimmer and his young daughter, who discovered a number of nitrous oxide cannisters as they enjoyed a walk at Oak Hill Park in Accrington in August last year.

It comes after Olivia Golding, 24, told how she has been left paralysed from the chest down last year from inhaling too much 'hippy crack'.

The Bristol mum would consume up to 15 balloons every weekend while her three-year-old son visited his dad.