A refrigerant is a chemical that makes things cold. This article discusses poisoning from sniffing or swallowing such chemicals.
The most common poisoning occurs when people intentionally sniff a type of refrigerant called Freon.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.
Eyes, ears, nose, and throat:
Stomach and intestines:
Heart and blood:
Note: Most symptoms result from breathing in the substance.
Seek immediate emergency medical care. Move the person to fresh air. Be careful to avoid being overcome with the fumes while helping someone else.
Contact poison control for further information.
Determine the following information:
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The patient may receive:
How well a patient does depends on the severity of the poisoning and how quickly medical help was received.
Severe lung damage may occur. Survival past 72 hours usually means the patient will have a complete recovery.
Sniffing Freon is extremely dangerous and can lead to long-term brain damage and sudden death.
Keep all poisons in childproof containers, with original labels, and out of the reach of children.
Coolant poisoning; Freon poisoning; Fluorinated hydrocarbon poisoning; Sudden sniffing death syndrome
Wax PM, Beuhler MB. Hydrocarbons and volatile substances. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 180.
Duenas-Laira A. Freon and Other Inhalants. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 95.
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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