Environmental regulations on refrigerant R-12
Motor vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) offers comfort cooling to passengers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put down requirements for servicing the components. These regulations affect auto shop owners, technicians, retailers and vehicle owners.
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EPA regulations state that refrigerants should never be released to the environment intentionally. Similarly, refrigerants must be properly recycled before reuse.
Use of R-12 (CFC-12) refrigerant ended in mid 1990s. Since 1995 MVAC use R-134a. Better substitutes being reviewed under Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) policy. Similarly, CFC-12 retrofitting must be done in accordance with the SNAP program. You can only retrofit your vehicle with SNAP-Approved alternatives. Currently, HFC 134a is the primary refrigerant used to retrofit R-12.
R-12 is an ozone-depleting refrigerant with a global warming potential of 10,900. According to Montreal protocol –an internal agreement- in 1987 the production and use of CFCs including R-12 began being phased out. By 1995 all vehicles for US market used HFC-134a as the air conditioning refrigerant. Manufacturers were required to stop using R12. Manufacturing of R12 ceased in 1996. However, existing R12 can be purified. R-12 was fully abolished in 2010 even in developing countries.
R12 Handling Certification
New shops must certify to the EPA regional office that they have acquired refrigerant handling equipment and they are using them properly. In addition, any person purchasing less than 20 pounds of R-12 must be certified under section 609 of EPA regulations. The seller must verify that the purchaser has approved training and certification under EPA section 609.
Only certified technicians are allowed to purchase ozone-depleting substances. They may be certified under section 608 or 609. The requirement also applied to most substitute refrigerants since January 2018. Similarly, employers of certified technicians are allowed to purchase the refrigerants.
While section 608 certified technicians can purchase refrigerants for air conditioning and station refrigeration, 609 certified technicians can’t purchase refrigerant meant use in stationary equipment.
Violating EPA section 608 can attract a daily fine of up to $37,500. Your neighbor is also entitled to 10, 000 fees if you are venting a refrigerant. R12 is a depleting ozone refrigerant and you should never release into the environment under any circumstances. It is illegal and be quite counterproductive to work with.
Numerous refrigerants have been used before R-12. However, none of them was up to par with CFC-12. It was non-flammable, safe and required little operating pressure. Due to concerns over ozone layer depletion R-12 become one of the first targets. After the Montreal protocol, R-12 began to be phased out. It is illegal to deliberate release R-12 to the environment.
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