Refrigerant's Potential Health Effects
Refrigerant is the lifeblood not only of air conditioning systems but also of refrigerators and some models of dehumidifiers. Without it, such appliances would simply be unable to perform their cooling tasks. Unfortunately, the chlorofluorocarbons that make up refrigerant represent a potential health threat if able to get out into the air of your home. This article will help to educate you about this threat by introducing you to some basic information about refrigerant and its potential health effects.
Refrigerant is, by its very nature, a volatile substance. You see, it has to be capable of passing from a liquid to a gas--and back again--with relative ease. This transformation is precisely what allows the refrigerant to absorb heat and thus accomplish its cooling tasks. So long as it remains safely inside of a refrigeration system, this poses no specific threat.
Trouble ensues when the refrigerant is able to escape through a leak. When that happens, and the refrigerant hits the open air of your home, it will instantly assume its gaseous form. This gas possesses a weight much greater than that of normal air. As a result, it will sink down to the floor and remain there in a highly concentrated state. Its volatile nature means that it will soon begin dispersing--but not always quick enough to prevent being inhaled in its concentrated form.
It will likely ease your mind to learn that, over the long run, refrigerant does not pose any serious health risks when inhaled in small doses. It is neither carcinogenic nor will it result in liver damage. In fact, it will not accumulate inside of your body at all. Instead, as you continue to breathe naturally, it will be exhaled back out to dissipate into the atmosphere. In other words, so long as the amount of refrigerant you inhale is small enough, there is relatively little to worry about.
Problems tend to develop, however, when refrigerant is inhaled in larger doses. Because it tends to hover near the floor, it thus poses an especially significant threat to pets and small children. Breathing in an excessive amount of refrigerant will disrupt the body's ability to deliver oxygen. In incredibly rare circumstances, this can be a significant enough threat to cause outright death.
In most cases, however, the symptoms are not life-threatening. Rather the victim may experience a pronounced difficulty in catching their breath. Likewise, they may experience irritation of the throat and/or eyes. Nausea and headaches are also common side-effects. The best thing to do for somebody who has breathed in refrigerant is getting them to an area with fresh, uncontaminated air while calling for emergency help.
For more information on appliance services in your area, check out a company like Ron Hammes Refrigeration.