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U.S. EPA highlights today’s refrigerant regulations

Monday, October 1, 2018 - 07:00
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Recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contacted the Automotive Service Association (ASA) regarding the importance of vehicle repairers staying informed about federal regulations governing mobile air-conditioning refrigerants. Section 609 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) governs the most important requirements affecting service technicians, shop owners, and refrigerant retailers. 

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EPA notes three general guidelines relative to refrigerant regulations:

  1. Refrigerant: Must be approved by EPA and cannot be intentionally released (vented) to the environment.
  2. Servicing: When payment of any kind is involved (including non-monetary), any person working on an MVAC (Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning) system must be certified under section 609 of the CAA and they must use approved refrigerant handling equipment.
  3. Reusing Refrigerant: Refrigerant must be properly recycled or reclaimed before it can be reused, even if it is being returned to the vehicle from which it was removed.

EPA determines alternative refrigerants under its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. SNAP lists refrigerants as either “acceptable subject to use conditions” or  “unacceptable.” 

In November 2016, the EPA issued a final rule updating its refrigerant management regulations. 

This regulation extended the sales restriction previously imposed on R-12 to other automotive refrigerants including R-134a and 1234yf. This sales restriction went into effect on January 1, 2018 and applies to refrigerant containers 2 pounds and larger. Refrigerant sellers are responsible for determining that the buyer either 1) is a certified technician or 2) employs a certified technician. Although this latest sales restriction brings about a more recent and secondary need for Section 609 credentials, it should not be forgotten that Section 609 credentials have always been and continue to be required when servicing MVACs for payment or barter.

In addition, the EPA included an exception for the do-it-yourself (DIY) market to purchase small cans (less than 2 pounds) of MVAC refrigerant with self-sealing valves.  For DIY purchasers doing work on their own vehicle, EPA requires that the purchaser be directed to the small cans of MVAC refrigerant with self-sealing valves.

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