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Question DetailsAsked on 6/12/2015

can breathing freon from a leak in indoor ac coils cause health issues? specifically respiratory?

in a condo, have an outside ac unit with 'air handler' in my laundry room, with coils I assume freon runs thru from outside (they get cold). Had the fan motor replaced and the tech had to add a pound of freon, commented could be a leak in the "inside coils" and may need to add more freon in a couple of years. Didn't think anything of it at the time, but have allergies, and my congestion is worse now the ac is back on than during the 3 weeks when I had the windows open with fans, and that doesn't make sense. Wondered if I'm breathing freon, and that could be the issue?

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4 Answers


Same here. Technician says there is a leak in the evaporator coils indoors. Air is pushed through the cooling coils and into the living space of the home. We breath that r-410a coolant. The manufactured evaporator coil is 2 years old. We have spent over $1400 repairing low coolant problems without replacing the evaporator coils. We now see that is the problem that needs replacing. A 2 year old unit..? The manufacturer Nordyne refused to warranty at 1 year 2 days. Family health not an issue if it isn't their family...same goes for the repair service company. They didn't mention that accumulation indoors is a heath issue for occupants. Where is our protection? Help.

Answered 5 years ago by Littlehorn


Here is a link to an MSDS for it - you can read for yourself on the toxicity and side effects. Basically, has not been found to be toxic or cancer causing, but breathing it can cause a number of effects as is says under the Inhalation item, and when it contacts heated surfaces like a furnace or water heater flame is can for acids. It also carries a lubricant with it in the air conditioning system (commonly mineral oil) and vaporized oils are known to be a significant respiratory hazard, both chemically and because the aerosolized oil coats the lungs causing edema and gradual suffocation.

Certainly a leak should not be allowed to continue, plus repeated filling of a leaking system constitutes a release of the gas that is prohibited under the Clean Air Act.


However, if leaking a pound every yesar or few, unlikely to have a noticeable effect unless you are breathing right at the leak point. I would say more likely, the respiratory effects are from inadequate filtration of dust and lint that is being recirulated in your home, or from mildew/mold growth on the evaporator coils. That is a common source of respiratory issues, as is forced air ventilation in general because it tends to pull inand recirculate more allergens from outside and inside than direct electric or steam/hot water radiator or baseboard systems.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


No it can not hurt you at all. The only way refrigerent can harm you is by inhaling it directly into the lungs, which can cause frostbite and kill you. The only thing its hurting is your wallet and the ozone layer.

The only way its harmful is by burning the freon directly with a flame. A furnace is not hot enough to burn leaking freon. Not even close.

Phosgene gas is produced when freon is burned. It will turn a yellow torch flame green during that process which I have seen many times before. If you breath in the fumes from the green flames "Phosgene gas" it can kill you instantly. Phosgene gas is also found in Mustard Gas which has been used as a chemical weapon since WW1.

There is no way for a homeowner to come in contact with Phosgene gas unless the furnace or house is on fire and you are standing at or above the evap. coil at the very second the coil begins to melt releasing the gas. If you are not there right at that second trying to inhale the stuff it just gets burned up by the rest of the fire/flames.

Freon is 100% safe to homeowners.

Source: 15 yrs exp.

Answered 4 years ago by Guest_91294628


I would take Guest 91294628's comment with more than a pound of salt - trust the MSDS with regard to known hazards of refrigerant gases and their associated lubricants.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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