US EPA to ban a dozen HFCs beginning as early as 2016

10 July 2014 21:42 Source:ICIS News

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Thursday that it will ban as early as 2016 about a dozen hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) now used in a variety of aerosol, air conditioning and refrigeration applications.

The agency said in an announcement that it is proposing to ban the HFCs because they “significantly contribute to climate change [while] safer, more climate-friendly alternatives exist”.

In proposal that will be open to public comment for 60 days, the EPA said that it is changing the classification of “acceptable” for a dozen or so HFCs to “unacceptable”, and that other HFCs are to be classified as acceptable but only in restricted applications.

The agency said that it is taking the action because the listed HFCs are classified as having “high global warming potential” (GWP) and available information shows that “other alternatives are available for the same uses that pose lower risk overall to human health or the climate”.

The HFCs and gases blends containing HFCs that are affected by the proposed bans are used in aerosols, automobile air conditioning, retail food refrigeration and vending machines, and in foam blowing, the agency said.

For example, EPA said that HFC-125 will be unacceptable for use as an aerosol propellant beginning January 2016. 

However, HFC-134a will retain its “acceptable” classification, but only for specific uses, including certain technical and medical aerosols, such as metered dose inhalers. But HFC-134a will be prohibited for use in consumer product aerosols.

Although most of the HFC usage bans and restrictions would take effect in 2016-2017, the agency’s proposed ban on use of HFC-134a in the air conditioning systems of new automobiles would not take effect until model year 2021.

More complete details on the range of HFCs being banned and their current applications are available in a three-page fact sheet related to the announcement.

Although the EPA said that more environmentally friendly alternatives are available for the HFCs subject to the proposed bans, the agency could not immediately identify those alternative gases or substances.

However, late last month the agency identified six chemicals that it said were more environmentally acceptable for use as refrigerants.

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By Joe Kamalick