Freon is a trade name for a group of synthetic chemicals that are used as refrigerants. They are present in HVAC systems, where they play a crucial role in the process of heat transfer. Most are made up of chlorine, fluorine, carbon, oxygen, and sometimes hydrogen. Although they are extremely useful, they also pose some health risks that everyone should take note of.
Freon in the Home
One of the most common issues with HVAC systems is refrigerant leaks. This typically happens gradually through the development of holes and cracks along their pathway. Freon is difficult to spot as they are colorless substances that have a faint smell. Detection can be problematic so the issue often persists for a long time without homeowners noticing it.
Yet there are signs which include gradual reduction in A/C cooling capacity and ice on pipes. Since Freon is denser than air, it stays low to the ground. Those who are usually affected are pets and small children. Dogs are especially sensitive to the gas. They may feel dizzy and have difficulty breathing.
Freon in the Workplace
Working in an environment where Freon is present in large quantities is dangerous to health. Aside from the symptoms already mentioned, exposure is known to be detrimental to the central nervous system. People may lose their concentration and fall due to dizziness. In tight spaces, they can cause asphyxiation by displacing air.
Those who have chronic heart ailments are particularly vulnerable. Freon is known to induce cardiac arrhythmia which is the experience of having irregular heartbeats. This can complicate matters if one is already dealing with a fragile heart. Regular medical checkups are necessary to ensure that the exposure does not cause any lasting effects.
Freon in the Sky
Freon can also compromise our health without us ever being in direct contact with the substance. When a type of refrigerant called CFCs get into the atmosphere, they float into the ozone layer and destroy it. The ozone layer protects us from the harmful UV rays of the sun so the massive damage makes us prone to skin cancer and related ailments. It is for this reason that CFCs have been banned although more benign forms of Freon continue to be used.
Follow our blog for more details on Freon and health, as well as other great HVAC information.