Teen trend of huffing freon can freeze lungs, cause brain damage


by KING 5 HealthLink


Posted on September 20, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

It's shocking and fast becoming the latest trend with teen huffing.

Kids are now inhaling freon, the gas found in air conditioning systems -- and sometimes with deadly consequences.

Online there's video after video of teens inhaling the coolant found in air conditioning systems.  Freon causes a rapid high that resembles alcohol intoxication.

"Even a single use can result in sudden death," says Dr. Shan Yin of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "Parents should be very concerned if they find out their child is using this."

Gail Henry knows the heartbreak. Her 18-year-old son Jacob was found dead next to an air conditioning unit with a bag over his head. He had been huffing freon.

"Don't ever considering doing it because that five seconds of high you get when you do it isn't worth dying over," she says.

Besides loss of consciousness, huffing freon can make your lungs freeze, cause frostbite to your airway, sudden cardiac death, and brain damage.

Some air conditioning service businesses report customers call believing they have a freon leak only to find out someone has been siphoning off the gas, which is easy to do. Many business owners are now putting padlock gates around their units and compressors. A service person can install one on your compressor, making it impossible to let freon out without a key. They cost about $25. Newer air conditioners come with an internal hose which makes it more difficult to access the freon.

Experts say prevention is key. Parents should talk to kids about the dangers because freon does not show up in drug tests.