Alternative names 
Coolants; Refrigerants; Fluorinated hydrocarbons

Poisoning from an exposure to a refrigerant.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • Fluorinated hydrocarbons

Where Found

  • Various refrigerants  
  • Some fumigants

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • Respiratory       o Breathing difficulty (from inhalation)       o Throat swelling (which may also cause breathing difficulty)  
  • Eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o Severe pain in the throat       o Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue       o Loss of vision  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Severe abdominal pain       o Vomiting       o Burns of the esophagus (food pipe)       o Vomiting blood       o Blood in the stool  
  • Heart and blood vessels       o Hypotension (low blood pressure) develops rapidly       o Collapse  
  • Skin       o Irritation       o Burn       o Necrosis (holes) in the skin or underlying tissues  
  • Blood       o Severe change in pH (too much or too little acid in the blood, which leads to damage in all of the body organs)

Home Treatment
Seek emergency medical care immediately. Most of the symptoms listed result from inhalation. Treatment includes removing the patient from the gaseous area. Be careful to avoid being overcome with the fumes while assisting someone else.

Contact Poison Control for further information.

Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:

  • The patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)  
  • The time it was swallowed or inhaled  
  • The amount swallowed or inhaled

Poison Control, or a local emergency number
See Poison Control Centers for telephone numbers and addresses.

What to expect at the emergency room

Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • For swallowed poison       o Placement of a tube down the nose and into the stomach (a nasogastric tube, or an NG tube) to wash out the stomach       o Activated charcoal administration       o Endoscopy - the placement of a camera down the throat to see the extent of burns to the esophagus and the stomach       o Give IV fluids       o Admission to the hospital       o Give an antidote       o Treat the symptoms  
  • For inhaled poisons       o A breathing tube may need to be inserted       o Oxygen       o Admission to the hospital or to the intensive care unit       o Bronchoscopy (inserting a camera down the throat into the airway to evaluate the extent of burns to the airway and lungs)  
  • For skin exposure       o Irrigation (washing of the skin), perhaps every few hours for several days       o Skin debridement (surgical removal of burned skin)       o Admission or transfer to a hospital that specializes in burn care

Expectations (prognosis)
With any toxic exposure or ingestion, survival and recovery depend of the extent of the exposure and the time to treatment. Severe lung damage may occur. Survival past 72 hours usually indicates complete recovery will occur.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Mamikon Bozoyan, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.