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Heath ramifications of refrigerant?

Refrigerants can give give you a 'high' fairly easily.

Beware though, caps will only seal the valve. If the can overheats, it can blow the rupture disk.

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  • Glenn Harrison_2
    Glenn Harrison_2 Member Posts: 845
    I found a leaking evap. coil this week...

    and informed the customer. She then asked me if there are any health risks to inhaling low levels of refrigerant (specifically R-22)?

    I know that in higher doses that refrigerant will displace oxygen, and if you are hypersensitive to Chlorine of Florine, you can have problems, but are there any other studies out there showing any other problems caused by inhaling low levels.

    In this case we are talking 3 pounds r-22 over a 14 month period, so we are talking less than an ounce a week.
  • Jeff Lawrence_24
    Jeff Lawrence_24 Member Posts: 593
    If there were problems

    Some of us would be dead.

    I remember years (and years) ago before the EPA got involved, we would blow the charge on 50 ton and 100 ton compressors. We'd just stay inside the condenser (remember the size? These were bigger than the house I lived in...) so we could get ready for the crane to come remove the semi-hermetic compressor.

    Do I know for a fact there are or aren't health problems? No.

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  • Alan R. Mercurio_3
    Alan R. Mercurio_3 Member Posts: 1,620

    Glenn, this may not be of much help to you and you may have already looked? I'll mention it any way :)

    Years ago I remember sitting in a basement eating my lunch at a job site. I had a cylinder of R-22 near me so I took the time to read what was on it. It seems to me there was information regarding health risks. So, if you haven't already? check it out the next time you're near a cylinder of R-22

    Your friend in the industry,
    Alan R. Mercurio


    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • don_120
    don_120 Member Posts: 15
    I can

    tell you from experience if you inhale enough of it you will get so dizzy that you had thought you spend to much time at the bar.

    Ok let me explian..I was going down the interstate years ago and the freon bottle was not strap properly and it went
    to rolling around in the truck and open up on me.

    And no time at all I was rolling down the window trying my best to pulled over in rush hour traffic,and getting higher by the seconds.

    By the time I got to the emergency lane,I was experiencing
    the sixty all over again,I had to set for I know better then a hour outside of my van to get back in the right state of mind.

    I guess it like anything,it depends on exprosure and time as to what or how it will effect you.

    All I can say I never want to experience it again,and thats why all freon bottles on my truck now have hard caps on them and case it ever happens again.
  • Kal Row
    Kal Row Member Posts: 1,520
    is R134 a carcinogen??? or is it the pag oil that goes with it??

  • Mitch_4
    Mitch_4 Member Posts: 955
    there is also

    The issue if there are smokers in the home. Tobacco leaves will absorb refrigerant ans when burned produced phosgene gas (mustard gas), which is inhaled directly when smoked.

    Gas ranges, fireplaces, candles will also burn R-22 and produce Phosgene. I know we are talking minute quanities here, but it is a health risk.

  • JeffD
    JeffD Member Posts: 41

    An ounce per week is nothing to be concerned with. Air infiltration and dilution with such a large volume of air in the home would dilute it to undetectable levels. The only real health threat is breathing a large concentration, as it displaces oxygen from the blood. If there was a large concentration near a flame then phosgene gas (cabonyl chloride) would be produced. Phosgene would only be produced if the refrigerant contained chlorine, ie an HCFC or CFC. HFC's do not contain chlorine thus would not produce phosgene upon burning. HFC's will produce hydrofluoric acid when burned and this is one nasty acid, it is used to etch glass. R134a is not listed as an animal or human carcinogen, neither is PAG or POE oils. However one should still treat these chemicals with respect and avoid overexposure. Remember the dose makes the poison, even plain water can become toxic if you drink to much of it.
  • John Drexler
    John Drexler Member Posts: 1
    Refrigerant Leak

    Hi Glen,
    Most of the time the problem is you can't find the leak, but you did. Plus your not only leaking refrigerant but compressor oil too(which can smell pretty bad on a older system)The smart call is repair it if you can or replace the evap coil or blower section. You can bet if there is one leak you probably have a few others waiting to happen.
    Good Luck.
  • Eugene Silberstein 3
    Eugene Silberstein 3 Member Posts: 1,380
    The Good News is....

    The good news is that you found the leak. You're gonna fix it, right?

    The really good news is that, through extensive searches, I found nothing that conclusively states that low level exposure to R-22 will have any long-lasting negative health effects.

    The bad news is this... How long is long-lasting? Just think about all of those fine men who worked around asbestos each and every day for years...

    There was a gentleman I worked with who would check for compressor burnouts by inhaling a large amount of system refrigerant (In the 80's). I guess it was his way of doing things. He's still around, but just because its been done by others doesn't mean that I'll be next in line to do it myself.

    Who knows, maybe in the long-term SPAM will be classified as a health food.
  • Glenn Harrison_2
    Glenn Harrison_2 Member Posts: 845
    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and idea's.

    I appreciate all the input.

    Alan, I did go read the bottle in my truck, unfortunately didn't see anything I didn't already know.

    don, I've been there too. Went around a corner in the truck one day and something that I don't remember fell over just right and bumped the valve on an R-22 tank. Heard the hissing and pulled over FAST!!!!

    Professor, thanks for your research time and answers.

    I will be replacing the coil, as the leak is in the tube sheet at the support plate. I personally wasn't worried about the small exposure, but since she asked I felt I needed to give her a fully informed answer.

    The reason she asked was 1: she has had headaches since A/C season kicked in, but this could be caused by just about anything. 2:She wants to know if she has to change the repair right now, or if she can wait till the end of the season and change out the entire unit due to its 16 year age. If she can wait 6 weeks safely, she will do the whole A/C and maybe even the furnace due to their age.

    Thanks again to all.
  • Eugene Silberstein 3
    Eugene Silberstein 3 Member Posts: 1,380
    Our Pleasure

    Keep up the good work!
  • Kal Row
    Kal Row Member Posts: 1,520
    \"even plain water\",AH yes, the much dreaded di-hydro-monixide

This discussion has been closed.