Uses. Freon is most familiar as a component of refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. The compound is commonly used to clean metal, and other industrial uses exist as well. In past times freon was routinely used in pressurized aerosol spray cans, but that usage ended after scientists discovered that freon contributes to the destruction of the Earth's ozone layer. Some persons have experienced hallucinations from inhaling freon vapor. A medical case report mentions that heavy polydrug abusers have used freon to experience flashbacks of those experiences. Various chemical formulations of freon exist, some of which may have hallucinogenic effect, and some of which may not.
Drawbacks. Freon may produce lung spasms. The substance has caused high blood pressure, perhaps as a consequence of kidney damage resulting from the substance. Users have described accelerated heartbeat. Inhalation has also brought on a cardiac emergency called ventricular fibrillation, which is fatal without immediate medical intervention. Even if the person survives, most individuals do not receive sufficient help in time to prevent lasting brain injury from lack of oxygen. In one case a 15-year-old freon user not only experienced the heart emergency but suffered lung and muscle damage as well. Using enough freon in a closed space can be fatal due to oxygen starvation. Inhalers have also reported injuries ranging from lacerations to a broken neck when they lost consciousness and collapsed while sniffing freon; such harm may not be attributable to the substance itself but can be a consequence of using it.
Pressurized freon gas can be cold enough to cause frostbite. Case reports note cold damage to fingers, along with drooling caused by frostbite injury to lips, tongue, and inside of the mouth. One report described "notable deformation" of someone's face; in another case, plastic surgery was necessary to reconstruct the damaged face of one recreational user.
Injection of freon is possible but seems to occur as industrial accidents to fingers rather than as an effort to obtain psychological effects. Upon injection, the gas, which has been under pressure in a container, is free to expand inside the body, producing uncomfortable results. Case reports indicate that victims fully recover.
Injury has also occurred from exposure to liquid freon, which is extremely cold and can cause severe frostbite. In one case, portions of a stomach died from freezing, causing holes that had to be surgically repaired. As with injections, injuries from liquid freon seem to be industrial accidents rather than results of recreational use.
Abuse factors. Not enough scientific information to report about tolerance, dependence, withdrawal, or addiction. Drug interactions. Not enough scientific information to report. Cancer. Not enough scientific information to report. Pregnancy. Not enough scientific information to report. Additional scientific information may be found in:
"Aerosols for Colds." Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics 15 (1973): 86-88. Brady, W.J., Jr., et al. "Freon Inhalational Abuse Presenting with Ventricular Fibrillation." American Journal of Emergency Medicine 12 (1994): 533-36. Goldsmith, R.J. "Death by Freon." Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 50 (1989): 36-37. Lee, T., et al. "Oral Frostbite Secondary to Freon Propellant Abuse." Journal ofToxicol-
ogy. Clinical Toxicology 34 (1996): 562. Maxwell, J.C. "Deaths Related to the Inhalation of Volatile Substances in Texas: 19881998." American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 27 (2001): 689-97. Wegener, E.E., K.R. Barraza, and S.K. Das. "Severe Frostbite Caused by Freon Gas." Southern Medical Journal 84 (1991): 1143-46.
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