Commercial refrigeration units sometimes use ammonia to operate. Unfortunately, ammonia isn't exactly the safest thing for anyone to be exposed to at high levels. What will happen if you're exposed to ammonia if the refrigeration unit leaks? How do you know there's a leak and what do you do if it happens? Here, you'll find the answers to all three of those questions.
Ammonia Exposure Risks
When a person is exposed to a corrosive chemical, like ammonia, they may suffer injuries to their eyes, lungs, and skin. If the exposure is very limited, chances are there will not be any long-term issues, but you'll feel uncomfortable for a while. If you're exposed for a prolonged period of time, your lungs may become damaged, and your body's natural chemical balance will be put off.
Treatment for Exposure
If the exposure is limited, getting out of the building and rinsing your eyes and skin should relieve the symptoms. If the exposure has been prolonged, go to the emergency room immediately. You will need x-rays, blood tests, and a full examination of your nose, eyes, and throat. If the injury is not treated, there is a chance that your condition will continue to worsen.
Identifying the Leak
Every commercial refrigeration unit that uses ammonia is equipped with an alarm system. This alarm will sound loudly to alert anyone in and around the building that the ammonia is leaking and the building must be evacuated. At this time, get out of the building and call emergency services for help. It is an unfortunate truth that these alarms don't always work as they should. That is why it's important that you know how to detect leaks without the alarm. Before you go searching for the leak, you'll need to put on a high-quality respirator, safety goggles, rubber gloves, and cover any skin that may be exposed.
Now, there are two techniques used to detect ammonia – sulfur sticks and litmus paper. The sulfur stick test is the use of a sulfur stick with a lit wick. You carry the stick around and watch for it to release white smoke into the air. When you see the white smoke – you know that you've found ammonia in the air. The litmus paper test is performed much like the sulfur stick test, but instead of the stick, you'll carry a small strip of dampened paper. When the paper turns red, you've found the ammonia in the air.
Talk with your local commercial refrigeration repair and service to learn more about ammonia and commercial refrigeration units.