Phasing Out the Offending Substance
the ozone layer
The stratospheric ozone layer shields the Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Emissions of certain synthetic chemicals—including CFCs, halons, and HCFCs—destroy the ozone layer and have created an ozone hole over the South Pole.
Through the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the United States committed to a collaborative, international effort to regulate and phase out ozone-depleting substances. While the U.S. phased out CFCs and halons in the mid 90s, it is now focused on reducing HCFC consumption through a similarly stepped plan.
Restrictions for each stage of the phase-out are listed below
While most HVAC equipment manufactured today uses other, safer types of coolant, many systems manufactured before 2010 still use the HCFC-22 coolant originally developed by DuPont. To be fair to those who own these systems, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a gradual, long-term phase-out plan for the coolant. Full implementation of the Clean Air Act Section 608 phase-out, overseen by the EPA, is scheduled for 2030, at which time the HCFC phase-out will be complete. In the interim, gradually increasing restrictions will be implemented. Restrictions for each stage of the phase-out are listed and briefly described below Click on the title to expand:
2010 Through 2014 Regulations: The 2010 Phase Down Step
75% phase-out of HCFC coolant is enacted through production and consumption limits.
Manufacturers face heavy regulation, production limits and some production bans.
Some exemptions are allowed for approved manufacturers.
Though regulated, HCFCs are still approved for reclamation, recycling and reuse.
No non-EPA-approved coolant, including R-22 and R-142b, may be used in newly manufactured HVAC equipment.
2015 Through 2019 Regulations: The 2015 Phase Down Step
Incremental decrease of HCFC production and consumption continues.
90% reduction of HCFC production and use is required in 2015.
No exemptions are allowed during this period.
Regulated HCFCs are still approved for reclamation, recycling and reuse.
R-22 and R-142b are banned for use in any HVAC equipment manufactured after January 1, 2010.
2020 Through 2029 Regulations: The 2020 Phase Down Step
A 99.5% reduction of existing HCFC coolant is required in 2020.
New production is prohibited and consumption must be reduced during this period.
No exceptions are allowed.
Recycling is allowed but only by licensed reclaimers operating under strict new regulations.
Limited reuse of these coolants is allowed, pursuant to stringent regulations.
2030 Regulations: The Final Phase Down Step
As of January 1, 2030, both at-home production and import of HCFC coolants are completely banned.
Recycling and reuse of these coolants are no longer allowed.
Production, distribution, sale or possession of HCFC coolants become illegal.
Any remaining R-22 and R-142b stores are destroyed.
100% HCFC refrigerant phase-out is complete.
New air conditioners and refrigerant in the U.S
Per the Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prohibited the manufacture of air conditioning systems that use R-22.
R-22 refrigerant is often used in AC equipment and includes chemical agents found to deplete the ozone layer. Production and import of R-22 was limited in 2010.
In 2020, R-22 will no longer be produced or imported. After 2020, only recovered, recycled, or reclaimed supplies of R-22 will be available.
The production (not use) of R-22 is being phased out. There is no requirement to stop using R-22 air conditioners or to replace existing equipment. The phase-out period provides time to switch to ozone-friendly refrigerants. In the future, R-22 supplies will be limited and costs to service equipment with R-22 may rise
Servicing systems with R-22
Equipment containing R-22 may continue to be serviced
In fact, the most important thing is to maintain units properly. Appropriate servicing minimizes potential maintenance costs and environmental damage.
It is also important to select a reliable service contractor. Technicians must have EPA Section 608 certification to service equipment containing R-22.
Request that service technicians locate and repair leaks instead of topping off leaking systems. This protects the ozone layer and saves money by optimizing the performance of existing equipment.
It is illegal to intentionally release any refrigerant when making repairs. Technicians must use refrigerant recovery equipment during service.
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