What is Chroming? The Dangerous TikTok Trend Led to the Death of an 11-Year-Old Boy

Tommie-Lee Gracie Billington, 11, is the latest to die after attempting the viral chroming trend while at a friend's house.


Mar. 8 2024, Updated 11:58 a.m. ET

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While there have been plenty of dangerous trends to come out of the internet, it's also true that young people in particular were prone to do dangerous stuff even before the internet came around.

Following the death of a 13-year-old girl in Australia and 11-year-old boy in the United Kingdom, many want to know which category "chroming" falls into, and whether it's something they should be worried about.

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Chroming is a dangerous and potentially deadly trend you need to be aware of. But, what exactly is chroming and why is it creating such a buzz on social media? Here's what we know.

A series of paint cans that are open and sitting on concrete.
Source: Getty Images
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What is the chroming trend on TikTok?

Chroming is another word for huffing or sniffing, and it involves inhaling toxic chemicals. Those chemicals could be everything from paint to gasoline to solvent to aerosol cans to glue. These chemicals typically affect the central nervous system by slowing down brain activity, and create a high as a result. Although these highs may feel good in the moment, chroming or huffing can also lead to some pretty severe side effects.

Chroming can result in slurred speech and dizziness, as well as more severe side effects like nausea, vomiting, and disorientation. In some extreme cases, it can also cause heart attacks or suffocation, as well as permanent damage to the lungs, liver, or brain.

In general, the practice is more common among young people, in part because they have less access to other kinds of drugs. In the U.S., around half a million people reported chroming, with the majority being kids ages 12 to 17.

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A young girl in Australia died after chroming.

In May 2023, news broke that Esra Haynes, a 13-year-old in Melbourne, Australia, had died after chroming. She spent more than a week in the hospital before her death.

After her death, her family said that they wanted to raise awareness about the dangerous practice to keep other people from doing it.

“We definitely have a mission to raise awareness for kids and anyone that does it," her sister Imogen told a local news outlet.

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“We don’t want that to happen to anyone else. We don’t want another family to go through this, it’s absolutely horrible," she continued.

“I just want to put awareness out there that it can happen very quickly, and we don’t want to lose any more amazing people," her brother Seth added.

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In March 2024, the Times of London reported on the death of 11-year-old Tommie-Lee Gracie Billington, who is believed to have died of cardiac arrest after attempting the TikTok chroming challenge. The boy, who lives in the United Kingdom, was found unresponsive at a friend's house, and was pronounced dead after being transported to a local hospital.

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Chroming has been around for years, though social media has popularized the trend.

Although it gets different names in different eras, chroming has been a problem among young people for years. The emergence of social media has made it easier to hear about these dangerous trends, but it's definitely not the only way that a person could come across the information that inhaling dangerous chemicals brings a significant high with it.

Ultimately, this is the kind of behavior that parents should be genuinely concerned about. As Esra and Tommie-Lee's death shows, there are things that most people keep around the house that can be dangerous if used the wrong way, and curious teenagers are often the most likely to push those boundaries in search of new experiences.

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