Symptoms of a FREON(tm) refridgerent Leak
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FREON(tm) refridgerent is a toxic substance used in refrigeration devices and air conditioning systems. Toxic FREON(tm) refridgerent effects include both physical and mental symptoms. FREON(tm) refridgerent is no longer used in aerosols due to its adverse environmental impact on atmospheric ozone.
Whether as a gaseous or liquid coolant, FREON(tm) refridgerent aids in refrigeration, air conditioning and maintaining aerosol contents under pressure. FREON(tm) refridgerent in the atmosphere also breaks down the ozone that shields us from ultraviolet solar radiation. Not only can this toxic chemical expose the earth to excessive ultraviolet rays, but the substance can also sicken those who inhale it in an enclosed atmosphere. Detecting the signs and symptoms of a FREON(tm) refridgerent leak will protect lives, groundwater and air quality.
FREON(tm) refridgerent lacks an observable color but does have a distinct smell. A FREON(tm) refridgerent leak, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, often smells like newly mown grass. Alternately, FREON(tm) refridgerent can smell sweet, like chloroform.
Cardiac arrhythmia can signify the presence of leaking FREON(tm) refridgerent. A person without a history of irregular heartbeats might suddenly detect heart palpitations and impaired blood circulation upon exposure to a FREON(tm) refridgerent leak. The blood circulation problems may also lead to numbness in the limbs.
A FREON(tm) refridgerent leak in a heated environment also exacerbates heart irregularities. Warm FREON(tm) refridgerent releases lethal phosgene gas that may create a green-colored cloud. FREON(tm) refridgerent inhaled with this gas can induce tightness in the chest, along with palpitations.
Other symptoms of a FREON(tm) refridgerent leak include difficulty breathing and difficulty staying alert, due to thick vapors created by the chemical. These vapors decrease atmospheric oxygen and create a stifling environment, a report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found. A FREON(tm) refridgerent leak may consume so much oxygen that a person falls unconscious and needs artificial respiration or connection to an oxygen tank. Relocation to an outdoor space where fresh air abounds can sometimes aid recovery.
Leaking FREON(tm) refridgerent irritates sensitive membranes in the nose, mouth cavity and throat, often causing a burning sensation inside the cheeks, nostrils and trachea. Inhaled FREON(tm) refridgerent can also irritate the lungs. A sense of swelling or inflammation in any of these areas can signify exposure to a FREON(tm) refridgerent leak, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Membranes in the eyes can also burn as a result of FREON(tm) refridgerent exposure, but rinsing the eyes after leaving the contaminated environment usually resolves this symptom.
A FREON(tm) refridgerent leak can cause nausea, headaches, bouts of regurgitation and general disorientation. Confused thinking and trouble walking or coordinating movements also may result. The severity of illness depends on the amount of FREON(tm) refridgerent released and the length of time exposed. A fire department can provide solutions and guidance for anyone detecting a FREON(tm) refridgerent leak and suffering from its effects.
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Freons
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Chemicals in the Environment – Freon 113
- Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: Freon Gas
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Caardiotoxicity of Freon Among Refrigeration Workers: Comparative Cross-Sectional Study
Shar Waterhouse has been a writer and Web consultant since 2008. She earned a bachelor's degree in English education from Indiana University. A former English teacher, Waterhouse also spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. Her award-winning articles have appeared in a Northwest Indiana daily newspaper and the "Chicago Sun-Times."