Although Freon is a chemical molecule utilised in a wide range of industrial operations, its widespread use has prompted concerns about Freon exposure and human health. Freon is the brand name for a class of chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons, including carbon, hydrogen, chlorine, and fluorine. The most well-known members of the Freon family are Freon 11, Freon 12, and Freon 22. Freon is primarily used in refrigeration, lubricants and fluorocarbon resins, and as a solvent in aerosol propellants. It is available as non-flammable, colourless liquids and gases. Despite its many applications, Freon may be a health risk in some conditions.
Apart from CO2, freon gas is a greenhouse gas. The Law on the Protection of the Ozone Layer via the Control of Specific Substances and Other Measures currently limits the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as refrigerants in train and building air conditioners. As a consequence, hydrofluorocarbons and perfluorocarbons are being increasingly used as substitutes.
Alternative freons are being employed to replace certain freons with significant potential for ozone depletion. On the other hand, alternative freons contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, so conversion to new refrigerants is being studied.
Other greenhouse gases, such as sulphur hexafluoride, are strictly controlled and regulated from manufacturing through disposal and are never released into the atmosphere.
Use of freons gas
Now we will dive into some of the uses of freons gas:
- Freons are used as refrigerants in refrigerators and air conditioners.
- It is used as a propellant in aerosols and foams.
- It is used as a propellant for foams in deodorants, shaving creams, and insecticides.
Freons’ Environmental Impacts:
- Freon gas is a very strong greenhouse gas, retaining heat that would otherwise be expelled into space by the planet. As a result, the earth’s temperature increases, resulting in rising sea levels, droughts, stronger storms, flash floods, and a plethora of other adverse effects.
- Freon’s chemical components degrade the ozone layer as it passes through the air. Depletion of the ozone layer increases the amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching the earth’s surface, providing a serious health risk to people. On the other hand, increased ozone levels cause respiratory problems and may even kill plants.
Exposure to Freon and the Human Body
If you are exposed to Freon on the job, keep in mind that the chemical is not completely safe. As a consequence, you should get regular checkups at a minimum of once a year. All medical evaluations should account for the possibility that Freon is causing damage to your heart. In most cases, such as when a refrigerator or air conditioner leaks, exposure to freon is minimal. However, if you have a history of cardiac problems, you should avoid Freon since it may cause an irregular heartbeat.
When present in high quantities, freon gases may cause dizziness, hypoxia, and a loss of coordination and concentration. They may irritate sensitive skin (rashes, dermatitis, etc. ), but the good news is that Freon has no long-term health risks. Freon is neither mutagenic, teratogenic, nor carcinogenic and has no hepatotoxic impact.
The Harmful Effects of Freon on Children and Pets
Bear in mind that this material is three to four times heavier than air and hence stays close to the earth’s surface. Consequently, you inhale more freon the closer you are to the earth or the floor. Children and pets (particularly dogs, which are more sensitive to freon’s effects) are significantly more susceptible to its effects.
If you suspect a Freon leak in your home, immediately open all windows and doors and use fans to assist in ventilating the area. Take your children and pets outside and immediately contact an expert to repair the leaking equipment.
Freon Exposure’s Long-Term Effects
Freon has been identified as one of the most egregious environmental contaminants. As it passes through the air, the chemical compounds in it erode the ozone layer. Depletion increases the quantity of ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth’s surface, providing serious health risks to people. As a consequence, Freon is being phased out in modern appliances. Simultaneously, only drug trafficking outnumbers attempts to transport the chemical across US border ports. Freon smuggling is illegal, and federal agents conducting “sting” operations on the “black market” for Freon have apprehended a number of smugglers.
We have covered the environmental effects of freons on the atmosphere surrounding this topic briefly. As it passes through the atmosphere, the chemical components of the substance contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. It is believed that depletion would result in a spike in UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface, which will pose major threats to human health.