CLEVELAND - Some teens are getting high on the very chemical we rely on to keep cool. It’s called Freon huffing, a fast, powerful and potentially deadly high.
Freon felons have forced Brian Arlinghaus’ heating and air conditioning company to now have its new A/C unit surrounded with fencing and kept under lock and key.
“We are finding that our service techs are going out to homes, systems are low on refrigerant, and do a leak test," Arlinghaus said. "[They] can't find leaks and something is happening."
Vandals often use plastic bags to capture the gas.
Dr. Carolyn Holland, an attending emergency room physician, said Freon, also known as R-22, is a cheap, easy-to-find high. But unlike other commonly misused inhalants, it is highly addictive.
“Unfortunately, it can also do things like cause sudden cardiac death the first time you use it, the last time you use it, second time, tenth time, it's not predictive," Holland said.
Freon huffing can also lead to frostbite on the nose and to the lungs, which can collapse the lungs.
The Freon valves have now been moved in newer A/C models, and are harder for thieves to access. And by 2015, Freon will be phased out completely.
If you think your air conditioning unit might be the target of Freon thieves, it’s simple to detect. Experts say unless you have a leak in the line of your unit, there is no logic explanation aside from tampering for your refrigerant levels to decrease.
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