Regulations and use of HFCs in the USA

Under section 608 of the Clean Air Act, it has been illegal since November 15, 1995, to knowingly vent substitutes for CFC and HCFC refrigerants during the maintenance, service, repair and disposal of air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment. On March 12, 2004, The Environmental Protection Agency in the USA published a rule clarifying that it is illegal to vent HFCs. These should be recovered in the same way as CFCs and HCFCs. For CFCs and HCFCs, section 608 includes the adoption of evacuation requirements based solely on the saturation pressures of refrigerants, the requirement for service apertures on appliances, mandatory certification of service technicians and sales restrictions. However, with the exception of the venting prohibition, this new rule does not further regulate the use or sale of HFCs. In addition, it does not address leak repair requirements for appliances containing HFCs nor does it address certification requirements for refrigerant recovery or recycling equipment intended for use with HFCs. According to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), this is not enough. They would like all current regulations on CFCs and HCFCs to be applied to HFCs as well, in order to preserve the future use of HFCs by applying good refrigerant use practices today. This would mean that HFCs would be required to meet the same requirements for leak-rate prohibitions, evacuation levels, leak repairs, record keeping, refrigerant recovery equipment certification and refrigerant sales restriction. According to Glenn Hourahan, ACCA Vice-President, "this is critical for responsibly safeguarding the natural environment in the future."