This Costco Was Evacuated For A Scary Reason

While some might have hoped to handle holiday returns or stock up on some food for the New Year this week, one Costco in New Jersey experienced an unexpected warehouse closure instead. Before anyone jumps to conclusions on a viral Karen moment at the checkout or empty shelves due to supply chain issues, this incident actually had bigger ramifications than fighting over who got the last shrimp tray for the holiday. In fact, this warehouse closure left some people heading to the hospital. 

According to an NBC News report, a Hazlet Township, New Jersey Costco experienced a freon leak on December 29. Freon is "the gas used as a refrigerant in air conditioners," per NBC New York, and exposure to the colorless and odorless gas can cause tremors, dizziness, and other health-related issues, according to the CDC. Although Costco staff tried to ventilate the store when the incident happened about 6:45 a.m., it was reported that 20 employees experienced reactions to the freon exposure, which included headaches and nausea. In a post from the Hazlet Township Police Department on Facebook, it's said Costco staff was evacuated and treated for headaches and nausea. At the time of publishing, the location remained closed. 

Hasn't freon been phased out?

When reports came out of a New Jersey Costco that was evacuated due to a freon leak, some people might have questioned the occurrence. The scary incident showed the negative health issues that can come from the leak of the environmentally unfriendly gas. Although freon used to be a common refrigerant used in air conditioning systems, its use has been gradually phased out. As reported by Boston 25 News in 2019, January 1 of the following year saw the end of both production and importation of freon in the United States. The report referenced that the Environmental Protection Agency decreed the odorless gas environmentally bad since it negatively impacts the ozone layer.

Although new air conditioners do not use freon, some older units still do. With supply becoming limited, the cost to find and use freon has increased dramatically. Even though it was not required to replace older units once this decree happened, freon's limited supply made some people choose to upgrade to options that were more environmentally friendly. As consumers make conscious choices with their spending, future environmentally friendly changes could become a more common occurrence and hopefully will lead to less news stories like this one at Costco.