Using appropriate, approved refrigerants in cooling systems is imperative to homeowner and technician safety. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release on July 1, 2013, regarding the potential safety hazards related to the use of propane or other unapproved refrigerants in home air conditioning systems, and a safety warning on July 21, 2014.
The EPA is investigating instances where propane has been marketed and used as a substitute for HCFC-22 (R-22). The EPA has not approved the use of propane refrigerant or other hydrocarbon refrigerants in any type of air conditioner, and warned that these substances pose a potential fire or explosion hazard. In addition, the EPA has made detailed information on unapproved refrigerant R-22a available on its website at http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/r22a.html.
The AHRI Chemicals and Refrigerant Reclaimers and Mobile Refrigeration Product Sections published a white paper, Reports of R-134a Contaminated with R-40 and Other Refrigerants, to assist contractors and others in the industry in identifying and avoiding counterfeit refrigerants. The paper was published in response to reports of counterfeit, and in some instances badly contaminated, R134a, R-22, R-404a, and R-410a. To avoid counterfeit refrigerants, the white paper recommends that contractors know their suppliers, properly verify refrigerants prior to use or servicing equipment, and properly label and isolate contaminated refrigeration systems. The white paper also offers methods to detect contaminants and provides steps for remediation.
For more information, contact Ned Bent at NBent@ahrinet.org.