Ammonia is both a friend to refrigeration contractors and a danger, too. When used properly in refrigeration units, its outstanding heat transfer capabilities can keep food cold for long periods of time, it does not harm the environment, and it is biodegradable. These features make it a good choice to meet today’s green standards. In recent years, ammonia refrigerant has been replaced — to some degree — by Freon, but it is still widely used despite many reports of severe toxicity after unintentional exposure to it.
So it is important to note that despite its decreased use as a refrigerant, ammonia is still making headlines because of its danger to human health. For example, according to a recent item in the Los Angeles Times, an incident last fall at a California nuclear plant caused an ammonia leak, which lead to evacuation of some workers “as a precautionary measure.” (To see the entire article, click here.)