One person died and three were injured by an apparent escape of Freon gas from cooling units being removed from a building in Charlestown, USA.
According to the Dailylocal.com state police said a crew was working at a former communications building when the incident occured. Fire companies and rescue personnel from around the region responded to the call, which was labeled a hazardous materials incident.
Authorities later declared the area safe, and no local residents were in danger. State police said the victim, a man age 28, of Philadelphia, was part-owner of a debris-removal company contracted to remove mechanical equipment and scrap material from the building.
State police said the victim and his brother entered the lower level of the building to open garage doors on the lower level for two co-workers. Police said they believe the pair were overcome by fumes from the mechanical room housing air conditioning units. The second man tried to summon the help of the two co-workers after the first man collapsed. However, the three failed.
Responding firefighters recovered all of them from the building, they were transported to Paoli Hospital for treatment,. One man was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to police. The name of the victim is being withheld pending notification of family.
The Chester County Hazardous Materials Team secured the building, then ventilated it, to restore oxygen levels.
State police said an inspection of the cooling units showed they were still pressurized and several valves on the units had been opened, allowing gases – believed to be Freon – to escape.
Freon is a manufactured gas commonly used in cooling. It is colorless, odorless, nonflammable and noncorrosive gas, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Because the exact nature of the exposure was unknown when rescuers responded, Paoli Hospital set up a decontamination area outside the hospital facility itself when victims were transported to the hospital. Rescuers and their equipment were also hosed down with water as a precaution at the scene.