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07-24-14 Advisory on the Hazards of Using the Wrong Refrigerant in Air Conditioners

As traditional refrigerants are being phased out because of their harmful effects on the environment, their replacements are generally more expensive. To save money, some AC repair companies and individuals are using propane as a refrigerant, which is considerably less expensive. The downside though is that propane is highly flammable and explosive. This propane is being called "22a" or "R-22a," but it's propane and EPA says it is not designed for air conditioners in the home and car.

Please take a look at the news release below. We're not aware of any incidents occurring locally related to this hazard, but we would like to take a proactive approach and get the word out. We would appreciate it if you would give this some coverage. If you need someone local for an interview, I can have someone who is familiar with this issue available for you at 2:00 p.m. or later today.

EPA Warning: Recharging Air Conditioners with Wrong Refrigerant Poses Injury and Fire Risks

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is cautioning homeowners, manufacturers of propane-based refrigerants, home improvement contractors and air conditioning technicians of the safety hazards related to the use of propane in existing motor vehicle and home air conditioning systems.

A number of refrigerants with "22a" or "R-22a" in the name contain highly flammable hydrocarbons, such as propane. These refrigerants are being marketed to consumers seeking to recharge existing home and motor vehicle air conditioning systems that were not designed to use propane or other flammable refrigerants. These refrigerants have never been submitted to EPA for review of their health and environmental impacts and are not approved for use in existing air conditioning systems.

Using propane-based refrigerant in an air conditioner that is not designed for flammable refrigerants poses a threat to homeowners as well as service technicians because systems that are recharged with "22a" refrigerants can catch fire or explode resulting in injury and property damage. EPA is investigating instances where propane-based refrigerants have been marketed and used as a substitutes for HCFC-22 (R-22) and will take enforcement actions where appropriate.

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