HVAC Breaking News / Refrigerants & Reclaim

July 2, 2013: EPA Warns Against Use of Propane as R-22 Substitute

Unapproved Propane-Containing Refrigerants Pose Fire and Explosion Risk

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is warning HVAC technicians, home improvement contractors, propane manufacturers and sellers, and homeowners of the potential safety hazards related to the use of propane or other unapproved refrigerants in residential air conditioning systems.

EPA is currently investigating instances where propane has been marketed and used as a substitute for R-22 refrigerant. The agency noted that residential air conditioning systems are not designed to handle propane or other similar flammable refrigerants. The use of these substances poses a potential fire or explosion hazard for service technicians and homeowners.

EPA said it is aware of incidents that have occurred both overseas and in the U.S. where individuals have been injured as a result of the use of propane and other unapproved refrigerants in air conditioning systems. The agency stated that it is investigating and will take enforcement actions where appropriate. Other names for these unapproved refrigerants include R-290, 22a, 22-A, R-22a, HC-22a, and CARE 40.

At this time, EPA has not approved the use of propane refrigerant or other hydrocarbon refrigerants in any type of air conditioner. Technicians and homeowners are urged to limit use of propane or other hydrocarbons to only those appliances specifically designed for these substances and that are properly marked to alert technicians that the equipment contains a flammable substance. EPA has approved the use of propane as a substitute refrigerant for R-22 in industrial process refrigeration systems and in new, stand-alone retail food refrigerators and freezers that are specifically designed to use flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/r22a.html.

Publication date: 7/1/2013

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