Getting high off catalytic converter parts is a growing problem in Africa

If you have basic knowledge of how cars work, then you’ll know catalytic converters are used to clean up the emissions of a car. Essentially, the exhaust fumes from your engine flow into the catalytic converter and through a filter. That filter, which looks like a honeycomb, collects carbon. And while that’s very good for the planet, it’s not good for humans.

Many people die from CO poisoning, it’s the reason there are CO monitors for your home. Not only that, but it can cause cancer and other long-term illnesses. So before I continue with describing the sensation of snorting car parts, we do not condone the use of any hard substances. Don’t snort car parts, you’re not an engine.

Now, the first sign of CO poisoning is often feeling tired, since the gas lulls your body to sleep. The effects of grinding up the filter and snorting it are, apparently, similar. In this Driving report, users of the brown dust can stand motionless for hours, and sleep for days. It’s a relaxation drug, rather than other substances that boost one’s adrenaline.

In Africa, the drug is called “bombe,” which translates to powerful. And the authorities there are calling this catalytic converter drug a nationwide problem.


What is bombé? 

According to Reuters, the word “bombé” means “powerful” in Lingala, a language spoken by more than eight million people in the northern parts of Congo.

The drug is made using crushed powder from a car’s catalytic converter. The car parts contain deposits like zinc oxide, platinum and rhodium.

According to Der Spiegel, a laboratory in Antwerp, Belgium, has analysed the effect of each individual component. But the experts still face a lot of unknowns.

They believe it’s possible that the substances from the catalytic converter set off a chemical reaction with the rest of the drug mixture containing substances like tramadol, dolarene, nitrile, ampicillin and, in some cases, traces of heroin.

Those who use bombé often, also mix it with sleeping tablets, sedatives or add it to tobacco. The drug is often snorted. After taking it, users first become euphoric, but then they begin to move more and more slowly.

People who use the drug refer to themselves as “zombies” because they can fall asleep while standing.

@iOriho Users of “Bombé”, a cheap but powerful drug, call themselves “the zombies” because after taking it in the middle of the day, they sleep standing, motionless, scratching, crying or crying. What can be done? What’s govts response ? — Alexander Oriho (@iOriho) November 21, 2021

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