Air Conditioning Alert: Teens Huffing Freon from AC Units

Your air conditioning system has worked faithfully all summer long to keep you cool inside your home or place of business. If your system was manufactured before 2010, chances are that is uses R-22 Freon to produce the cool air you desire.

While you may have heard of R-22 for its ozone depleting qualities, you may not be aware of its deadly use by teenagers. Unfortunately, teens around the country are huffing Freon to get a high, which is similar to being extremely intoxicated and only lasts a few seconds or minutes. Why has it become so popular among teens? It is easily accessed in outdoor AC units, and often goes undetected by parents as the high and its effects are so short-lived.

Why Is Huffing Dangerous?

While it may seem harmless to teens, it is important to understand that this practice can cause death on the very first attempt. When inhaled, the chlorofluorocarbon gases replace the oxygen in the lungs and brain, freezing them and destroying brain tissue. This can result in death.

How Are They Doing It?

Teens may inhale the Freon as it is released directly from the unit, or they may capture it in a bag such as a plastic shopping bag, and huff from that. Either way, the result can be deadly.

How Dangerous Is Huffing?

Unfortunately, reports released by the American Association of Poison Control Centers show that this lethal practice is growing in popularity among the youth of today. In 2009, 2 teens died and more than 2,000 others were hospitalized. By the end of 2010, over 7,000 Americans reported exposure1.

How Can I Help Prevent It?

Your local AC contractor can install a locking cap that goes on your outside unit to prevent the Freon from being accessed without the key. These caps are typically available for around $25, which is very affordable and a worthwhile investment.

Have you had a problem with low refrigerant levels this summer, without any sign of a leak? This may be a sign that your system has been used in this dangerous act. Call the friendly professionals at Mason Mechanical about getting a locking cap for your air conditioning system, or to inquire about our additional products and services.


1American Association of Poison Control Centers