FACT SHEET: Proposed Rule - Listing of Substitutes in the Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning Sector
- EPA is proposing to list two substances, HFC-152a and CO 2 as acceptable alternatives with use conditions for motor vehicle air conditioning systems.
- This proposal would allow the use of two new alternatives to ozone depleting substances in the motor vehicle air conditioning sector and outline the conditions necessary for their safe use. The proposed substitutes are non ozone-depleting gases and consequently do not contribute to stratospheric ozone depletion.
- These new alternatives, when used with proper risk mitigation technologies, would reduce the impact of mobile air conditioners on the environment.
- Under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program (Section 612 of the Clean Air Act), EPA reviews alternatives to Class I and Class II ozone depleting substances (ODS) and approves use of alternatives which reduce the overall risk to public health and the environment.
- The European Union has proposed and is expected to ban the use of HFC-134a and other fluorinated gases in a variety of applications. By the end of the decade, car manufacturers in the European market may have to move to the new alternatives proposed in this action. In response, U.S. car manufacturers are developing systems using these new alternative refrigerants as well.
- If auto manufacturers chose to adopt these technologies, they would be required to install safety devices to mitigate risks of fire or over-exposure to the refrigerant in the event of an accidental release during servicing or vehicle operation.
- Currently, CO 2 is an acceptable alternative under the SNAP program. This action will amend the previous SNAP acceptability of CO 2 to require manufacturers to install the necessary safety devices.
How to Comment
- EPA will accept comments on this proposed rule for 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. Please note the comment period is now closed.
- All comments should be identified by Docket No. OAR-2004-0488
- Comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
- Email: A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov
- Fax: (202) 566-1741
- U.S. Mail: Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), Mailcode 6102T, Attention Docket ID No. OAR-2004-0488, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW , Washington , DC 20460
- Hand Delivery or Courier: Deliver your comments to EPA Air Docket Public Reading Room, Room B102, EPA West Building, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.
- Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. OAR-2004-0488.
- Additional information on motor vehicle air conditioning refrigerants can be found at the following address: http://epa.gov/ozone/snap/refrigerants/index.html
Several States have laws that may inadvertently prohibit use of these alternatives even if they are ultimately found acceptable by EPA for use in motor vehicle air conditioning systems (see table below). For example, Connecticut Statute Volume 5, Title 14, Chapter 246 (Motor Vehicles), Section 14-106 (Air conditioning equipment) states that "mechanical vapor compression refrigeration equipment which is used to cool the driver or passenger compartment of any motor vehicle shall be manufactured, installed and maintained with due regard for the safety of the occupants of the vehicle and the public, and shall not contain any refrigerant which is toxic to persons or which is flammable." This law prohibited toxic and flammable substances like ammonia and hydrocarbon refrigerant from being used in motor vehicle air conditioners and is consistent with Federal restrictions on these chemicals under the Clean Air Act.
|Connecticut||Connecticut Statutes Volume 5, Title 14, Chapter 246, Motor Vehicles, Section 14-106, Air conditioning equipment|
|Idaho||Idaho Statute 49-959, Air conditioning equipment|
|Indiana||Indiana Code Title 9, Article 19, Chapter 2, Air Conditioning|
Kansas statute 8-1747, Air conditioning equipment
|Louisiana||Louisiana Revised Statute 32:375, Air conditioning equipment|
|North Dakota||North Dakota Century Code 39-21-45, Air conditioning equipment|
|Oklahoma||Oklahoma Statute 47-12-410, Air conditioning equipment|
|Texas||Texas Transportation Code §547.610, Air conditioning equipment|
|Utah||Utah Traffic Code 41-6a-1640 Air conditioning equipment|
|Virginia||Code of Virginia 46.2-1088, Air conditioning units|
|Washington||Revised Code of Washington 46.37.470, Air-conditioning equipment|
It appears, however, that laws such as Connecticut 's could also restrict new technologies using CO 2 and HFC-152a refrigerants. While these refrigerants can pose risks if used without proper controls, EPA's proposed regulation would, if finalized, restrict their use to air conditioning systems that meet safe exposure limit
s, even in the event of a leak or an accidental release. 1
Other states have revised their laws to allow the use of refrigerants that are listed as acceptable under the Clean Air Act, while still protecting the public against hazardous refrigerants. For example, Montana regulations provide that "Air-conditioning equipment may contain only refrigerant that has been included in the list published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a safe alternative motor vehicle air-conditioning substitute for chlorofluorocarbon-12 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 7671k(c)." (See MCA § 61-9-426 online.) Wisconsin is another good example. "Flammable refrigerant" is clarified to mean a "substance containing butane, propane, mixtures of butane and propane, or other gaseous hydrocarbons when used or intended for use as refrigerants in motor vehicles." Flammable refrigerants are banned in vehicles "whose mobile air conditioners were not designed and manufactured to use flammable refrigerants." (See § ATCP 139.04 (11) online). Arizona uses a combined approach. Like Montana , it says that refrigerants approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are acceptable. Like Wisconsin , it says that certain flammable refrigerants must be used in air conditioning systems designed for them. Furthermore, it provides a set of suggested standards that can be used to comply with the requirement. (See the Arizona Refrigerant Regulation online)
Automakers and component manufacturers have informed EPA that they will be making design and manufacturing decisions on the "next generation" air conditioning technologies by mid 2007. States may wish to potentially consider legislative or regulatory adjustments to allow use of refrigerants consistent with Federal listings so that automobile manufacturers may install new technologies that safely use these refrigerants.
1 Although CO 2 is harmless at normal atmospheric concentrations, it can have toxic effects at high concentrations. HFC-152a is flammable at concentrations above 3.7%. To comply with EPA's regulation, if finalized as proposed, air conditioning systems must be engineered to limit potential exposures to below safe limits established in the rule.