NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Even for the most attentive homeowner, this is likely not something you’ve thought about: what kind of cap is on your HVAC unit.

People are going around to homes and sucking the chemical gas used as a refrigerant in HVAC systems to get high. It’s called Freon huffing.

“I thought it was crazy because this stuff, if it gets on your skin, it will give you frostbite in the middle of summer time with how cold it is,” says Thomas Kosinski, vice president of Assured Heating and Air in White Bluff. “So for people to actually want to go around and inhale this into their lungs and system, I’ll never understand why.”

Kosinski says industry and even state leaders are asking them to do their part to prevent the problem by installing tamper-resistant caps, that require a key for removal.

Communications Director for Addiction Campuses in Nashville, Brian Sullivan, says, Freon huffing is most common in teens and those who do not have the means to buy more expensive drugs, and the side effects from it can be deadly.

Sullivan says, “Typically the most dangerous side effect is Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. In that case, your lungs can freeze up, it can cause asphyxia, it can cause vomiting, seizures, it can cause heart arrhythmia, which can lead to a heart attack.”

Kosinski says rules for the new caps went into effect in 2009, but enforcement has increased recently.

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