Skip to comments.Freon can KILL you
Posted on 07/12/2010 12:47:45 PM PDT by rstrahan
We all take automotive refrigerant (R-12/R-134) as part of the car. But this stuff can KILL YOU. Found out the hard way. Wife was in the car, AC failed, dumped all the freon into the cabin of the car. She got a big shot of it. 30 minutes later, she is very dizzy, very sick. An hour, she's flat on the floor, throwing up blood. Got her to the ER, they started work. She's home now and recovering. But if we had not got her to the ER, she could have died. You do research, the medical articles say "if you survive 72 hours". YIKES.
So, if you get exposed to this stuff, get to the ER immediately. It is NOTHING TO FOOL AROUND WITH.
I thought they didn’t use freon any more.
Good to hear she’s home recovering and thanks for the advice.
Thank God she survived! Was it from breathing it or from having it on her clothing/feet, etc.?
I don’t understand.... just from inhaling it?
Thanks. What model car and how old? Who charged it last? Did they know what they were doing?
The hoses and gages used with R-134A don't work with R-12. Different connector, the whole bit.
I googled it and got this:
...and other sites. A snippet:
When Freon gases are in very high concentration, they can cause dizziness, asphyxia and loss of coordination and concentration. They may cause irritation, particularly with regard to sensitive skin (skin rashes, dermatitis, etc.), but the good news is that Freon has no long term effects on health. Freon is not a mutagen, teratogen or carcinogen, and it does not affect the liver.
There were kids back in high school that used to huff this stuff to get a high. I can imagine the stuff is rather dangerous just judging from the way they acted after huffing it. Thanks goodness she’s alright. What kind of recovery time is she looking at?
I’m glad she’s OK. I’ve never heard of this and I used to do auto A/C when I was a mechanic.
Apparently it is incredibly bad for you:
>> Freon has no long term effects on health. Freon is not a mutagen, teratogen or carcinogen, and it does not affect the liver.
“Ask your doctor if Freon is right for you.”
oh, and you can buy R-134A at Walmart in 12-24oz cans, and at Sam’s club in 20LB cannisters.
I understand that drawing it thru a lit cigarette will kill a person pretty fast. Decomposes when heated into phosgene or something.
Now that was funny.
MSDS for R-134a.
POTENTIAL HEALTH HAZARDS
SKIN: Irritation would result from a defatting action on tissue. Liquid contact could cause frostbite.
EYES: Liquid contact can cause severe irritation and frostbite. Mist may irritate.
INHALATION: R-134A is low in acute toxicity in animals. When oxygen levels in air are reduced to 12-14% by displacement, symptoms of asphyxiation, loss of coordination, increased pulse rate and deeper respiration will occur. At high levels, cardiac arrhythmia may occur.
INGESTION: Ingestion is unlikely because of the low boiling point of the material. Should it occur, discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract from rapid evaporation of the material and consequent evolution of gas would result. Some effects of inhalation and skin exposure would be expected.
DELAYED EFFECTS: None Known
4. FIRST AID MEASURES
SKIN: Promptly flush skin with water until all chemical is removed. If there is evidence of frostbite, bathe (do not rub) with lukewarm (not hot) water. If water is not available, cover with a clean, soft cloth or similar covering. Get medical attention if symptoms persist.
EYES: Immediately flush eyes with large amounts of water for at least 15 minutes (in case of frostbite, water should be lukewarm, not hot) lifting eyelids occasionally to facilitate irrigation. Get medical attention if symptoms persist.
INHALATION: Immediately remove to fresh air. If breathing has stopped, give artificial respiration. Use oxygen as required, provided a qualified operator is available. Get medical attention immediately. DO NOT give epinephrine (adrenaline).
INGESTION: Ingestion is unlikely because of the physical properties and is not expected to be hazardous. DO NOT induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by a physician.
ADVICE TO PHYSICIAN: Because of the possible disturbances of cardiac rhythm, catecholamine drugs, such as epinephrine, should be used with special caution and only in situations of emergency life support. Treatment of overexposure should be directed at the control of symptoms and the clinical conditions.
From the second site you listed:
“The most common poisoning occurs when people intentionally sniff a type of refrigerant called freon. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to long-term brain damage and sudden death.”
Sounds like something you’d see in Reefer Madness. All the sites I hit say there are no long term effects with the exception of this: “However, if you have known heart problems, you need to be very careful with Freon because it can cause irregular heartbeat, i.e. cardiac arrhythmia.”
Yes Phosgene is very toxic. I understand it was used in chem weapons at some point.
What year your vehicle?
So, if a person is smoking and at the same time they take a strong drag the air is dense with freon, serious side effects could result?
“There were kids back in high school that used to huff this stuff to get a high.”
Ype, I mean “yep”. :(
Glad you’re wife is ok, rstrahan. I hope there are no lingering effects. :~)
Phosgene is about 3/4 the way down. Nasty.
See post #24
Burn it as it comes out of the can with a propane torch and you have mustard gas.
Burn it as it comes out of the can with a propane torch and you have mustard gas... actually, phosgene which is very similar.
I would not advise it.
Because of the war crimes charges you’d receive?
Yes, phosgene was one of the very nasty gases used in WWI.
‘Freon’ also breaks down to HFl. hydrofluoric acid. Another very nasty chemical.
Having worked around ‘freon’ and torches many times I can tell you one whiff of either will almost knock you down.
Ever struck a match and got a whiff of sulphur dioxide? Takes you aback. Similar to HFL and phosgene.
The lubricating oils that are used with R-134 are synthetic and are more toxic than the mineral oil R-12 used.
Neither is something you'd want to breathe in. I can't stand the PAG or Ester oils on my fingers, they absorb the moisture and cause the outer layer of skin to fluff off, so I wear chemical barrier gloves when handling it.
So glad your lovely wife is safe and sound!
Yes. I used to do AC/refrigeration and brazing copper you could see if there was latent freon; it would burn green. I nearly got myself once working in a confined area.
Nothing to fool with.
Me too. Commercial
I have been hacking control software for about 20 years. Before that I did commercial HVAC. Got out about the time they started all the reclaim stuff.
I’ve used R-12 for years.. at room temperature, in liquid form, formed the base of a prosthetic adhesive.. gluing latex parts to the body.
Stuffed worked great and as I said, used it regularly for years. Of course its use was banned by the EPA, not the FDA.. for “being dangerous to the OZONE layer.”
Having said that,, there is one situation where it becomes toxic. Freon, in the presence of red hot copper and flame becomes fozgen (spelling?) AKA mustard gas.
I've been in the HVAC biz for three decades. Something else happened here, but it was not just freon. Side note,, stupid kids trying to get high will try stiffing freon,, since it displaces oxygen,, it can kill you.
Nothing beats R 12 over 134. Keep all the classics on 12 no matter the expense. Ice cold right away. Heard of people mixing ammonia to 134 for a colder effect. Breathe a fair amount of both in my time through working on my cars and never had anything happen. Maybe there were other failures, i.e. wires burning, A/C oil burning.
I recall my Dad teaching me years ago what he was taught in Army Basic Training during WWII. Something like, “When you smell the grass mown green, then you know you’re in phosgene”.
I have since checked a MSDS for one of the freons - yes it does decompose into phosgene when heated.
Totally agree about phosgene.
Both myself and my father have been in the refrigeration industry and both of us have been struck with the effects of long term exposure to both Phosgene and Freon.
Both of us have Peripheral Neuropathy affecting both hands and feet.
I have also met a refrigeration mechanic in his 60’s who is in a wheel chair because of long term exposure to Freon and Phosgene.
Are there any other refrigeration mechanics with the same condition?
R-12 is in older cars now. R-12 is very, very, expensive if you can even find it. Most vehicles after 1995 have a different type but still you should inhales it. I used to work on car A/C many years ago. It sounds like the evaporator coil ruptured otherwise it should have vented outside the vehicle. But if the coil ruptured that is a different story.
I hadn’t heard of the symptoms you are having as associated with ‘Freon’.
Have heard of liver cancer being associated though.
Poking around on the web I ran across this article, interesting theory.
I’ve been told that a bunch of new refrigerants are on the horizon.
One that I deal with a little is R-407c.
It’s being used in some computer room ac units. Similar pressures to R-22.