Close look on refrigerant poisoning

A refrigerant is a chemical substance utilized in air-cooling and refrigeration. It functions as a medium of cooling. Poisoning can occur by accidental or intentional intake of any product that contains the compound.

It is important to note that there are various forms of refrigerants such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, chlorofluorocarbons and halocarbons. The fluorinated hydrocarbons and other compounds present in refrigerants are considered toxic.

What are the indications?

The indications of refrigerant poisoning might range from minor to severe and vary for every individual. In most cases, different body systems can be affected.

Poisoning can also occur after swallowing the compound or inhaling the refrigerant vapors and fumes.

The indications of refrigerant poisoning might include:

  • Pain or burning sensation in the mouth and throat. In some cases, the eyes, ears and nose might be affected as well.
  • Swelling of the tongue and mouth and inability to speak clearly
  • Serious burns can lead to the necrosis of the underlying tissues
  • Choking sensation after inhaling the fumes
  • Visual irregularities and loss of vision

    refrigerant poisoning
    Pain or burning sensation in the mouth and throat. In some cases, the eyes, ears and nose might be affected as well.
  • Intense abdominal or stomach pain
  • Blood-streaked stool
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate and rhythm
  • Collapse

Management of refrigerant poisoning

Once an individual is suspected with refrigerant poisoning, the initial action to take is to call for emergency assistance or poison control center.

  • The individual should be transferred away from the area of exposure, preferably to an open space with fresh air.
  • Check if the individual is breathing and if he/she has a pulse rate.
  • If the eye or skin was exposed to the refrigerant, it should be thoroughly washed with large amounts of water for at least 15 minutes.

Once these measures are carried out, wait for the emergency team to arrive or bring the individual to the nearest healthcare facility. If possible, bring the container or bottle of the substance along.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on refrigerant poisoning is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the indications of poisoning by taking a standard first aid course with Red Deer First Aid.

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