Refrigerant Gas

Refrigerant Poisoning – How Dangerous are the gases?

Refrigerant is a coolant used in HVAC systems for cooling and in Refrigerators for preserving your perishable goods. But along with benefits, they pose a serious risk to your health if handled improperly. In this article, we are going to take a look at what happens if you accidentally inhale Freon, Freon Inhalation Symptoms, and what to do if you inhale Freon.

What is Refrigerant/Freon Poisoning?

Refrigerant Poisoning occurs when someone intentionally or accidentally inhales, ingests, or contacts the Freon/Refrigerant. The exposure causes adverse health effects. It emphasizes the need for proper handling and safety precautions when working with these substances. Refrigerant Poisoning is diagnosed by medical professionals by assessing the signs and symptoms and running some additional tests. It can be caused by any type of Freon including CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, and HFOs.
The Freon gas, when inhaled, cuts off the supply of oxygen to the lungs and brain. The Freon is odorless and tasteless that’s why its leakage is hard to detect.
There are some other names for refrigerant poisoning.

  • Coolant Poisoning
  • Fluorinated Hydrocarbon Poisoning
  • Freon Poisoning
  • Sudden Sniff Death Syndrome
  • Refrigerant inhalation toxicity
  • Refrigerant toxicity
  • Refrigerant gas poisoning
  • Refrigerant fume exposure
  • Refrigerant vapor inhalation

Detectable Signs

There are some signs that you can look for to detect the Freon leakage in your home.

  • Freon has a faint and sweet smell like freshly cut grass. If you smell anything like this, it may be due to refrigerant leakage.
  • A leaking Freon line may produce a hissing or bubbling noise, particularly near the equipment.
  • You can look for excessive ice formation on the evaporator coils or refrigerant lines to detect a leak.
  • Your system may have reduced cooling because of the dropped refrigerant levels due to leakage.
  • You can look for oily residue or frost buildup on the refrigerant lines or components.

Freon Inhalation Symptoms

The symptoms of Poisoning can differ based on the two types of poisoning which are Acute Poisoning and Chronic Poisoning.
Acute Poisoning is caused by unintentional, sudden, and short-term exposure to the Refrigerant. It is generally curable.

Symptoms of Acute Poisoning

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Sinus Swelling
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Chemical burning sensation in eyes, nose, ears, and mouth
  • Blurry Vision
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Frostbite (in case of direct contact)
  • Seizures/Tremors
  • Drowsiness/Disorientation
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Blood in Vomit
  • Blood in Stool
  • Lightheadedness/Dizziness
  • Severe Headaches
  • Itching and rashes on the skin

Chronic Poisoning is caused by long-term exposure to the gas. It can be intentional self-harm. It can also happen to HVAC technicians who engage with the gas regularly. It is deadly and can cause permanent brain damage.

Symptoms of Chronic Poisoning

  • Bleeding in Lungs
  • Kidney Failure
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Esophagus Burning
  • Blood in Vomit
  • Mental Disorientation
  • Mood Swings
  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Asphyxiation
  • Lethargy/Fatigue

Care Protocol for Refrigerant Exposure Incidents

These symptoms are undoubtedly horrendous but still, some manage to get themselves in these situations. Their proper treatment is crucial so that they can follow on with their lives as healthy as they were before.

  • After recognizing the symptoms and detecting the leakage, the first thing you must do is to move farther away from the leaking source. Shift to another room and don’t unnecessarily enter the room until the technicians have arrived and fixed the leakage.
  • If you were in the presence of the freon, immediately call your local emergency helpline and your local poison control number and let them know of your condition. Follow their instructions and answer any questions they might have. You’ll have to tell them about the quantity of the refrigerant consumed, time of ingestion, age, weight, and other general questions.
  • If anyone has directly contacted the Freon, wash with plentiful water for at least 15-20 minutes.
  • Take the affected individual to the Emergency room (ER) of your nearest hospital.
  • If the affected person had consumed directly from the can, bottle, or container of refrigerant, take that with you to the ER and show it to the doctor.
  • By following these steps, you’ve done your part, the next treatment will be carried on by the doctor expert in the area.

    Medical Procedures

    The doctor can perform the following medical procedure to cure the Refrigerant Poisoning as soon as they can:

    • They’ll check for Vital Signs which means checking breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and pulse.
    • They may put you on medications to treat some underlying symptoms like irregular heartbeat and seizures.
    • They may insert Intravenous (IV) fluids through your veins to boost your immunity and healing process.
    • They may perform an Endoscopy: insert a tiny camera through your throat to see the severity of burns in your stomach and esophagus.
    • Irrigation can be carried out which means your skin will be washed out several times a day for many days.
    • Doctors can do surgical removal of the burned skin.
    • They can Insert a breathing tube or oxygen to enhance your breathing process.
    • They can perform Gastric Lavage which is to insert a tube in the stomach of the affected person to remove any waste component.

    Preventive Measures

    Freon Consumption can be prevented by adopting the following measures:

    • Ensure Proper Ventilation in your living or workspace.
    • Keep the Refrigerant out of the reach of children.
    • When working with Freon, wear appropriate PPE such as gloves, goggles, and respiratory protection to minimize direct contact and inhalation of vapors.
    • Install leak detection systems in refrigeration equipment and storage areas to quickly identify and address any leaks before they escalate.
    • Store Freon containers securely in well-ventilated areas away from heat sources, ignition hazards, and incompatible materials.
    • Keep yourself informed about the first aid process in case of accidental poisoning.
    • After you’re done with the industry work, take a shower and change your clothes.
    • Keep the work clothes at the worksite. Don’t bring them at home.
    • Continuously wash your hands with soap in between your work to maintain the necessary hygiene.
    • Do regular maintenance of your HVAC systems and get your refrigerant lines checked regularly. Al-Imran provides Maintenance Services at cost-effective rates.

    In conclusion, safeguarding against the dangers of refrigerant poisoning requires vigilance, education, and proactive measures. By prioritizing proper ventilation, regular maintenance, and adherence to safety protocols, you can significantly reduce the risk of exposure to harmful refrigerants. Stay safe and protect yourself from refrigerant exposure! Implement proper ventilation, maintenance, and safety protocols today. Your well-being matters!

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