NYMPP: Section 1 - Mechanical Activities
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Production of CFCs
was halted by amendments to the Clean Air Act on January 1, 1996.

New York Sea Grant's
Marina Pollution Prevention Web Site

Section 1:
Mechanical Activities
- Refrigerants

Potential Environmental Impacts

Refrigerants become an environmental problem when they escape into the air. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, or FreonTM) are gases used primarily as refrigerants in motor vehicle air conditioners, building air conditioning units, refrigerators and freezers. When CFCs are released into the air, they rise into the upper atmosphere where they damage the protective ozone layer in the stratosphere. A single CFC molecule can destroy 100,000 molecules of ozone. The ozone layer absorbs the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and as it is damaged, living things on the earth become exposed to harmful UV radiation which can lead to skin cancer and cataracts.

Best Management Practices

  • Investigate alternatives to ozone-depleting refrigerants. These alternatives include HFC-134 (or R-134a), R-409a and R-404a.

  • The EPA does not require that refrigerant leaks be repaired, although it recommends that vehicle owners consider repairing leaks to reduce emissions and extend the useful life of their air conditioner. Repair of leaking systems will help vehicle owners avoid the need to continue to refill systems with high priced refrigerant.

  • For more information on CFC handling, contact the EPA at (800) 821-1237, or the National CFC Hotline at (800) 296-1996, between 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Regulatory Issues

  • Everyone who services air conditioners must be certified in the proper use of CFC recovery and recycling equipment [Clean Air Act, Title VI, Section 608 and 609, 40 CFR 82.34, click here].

  • The Clean Air Act prohibits release of CFCs and halons. Anyone repairing or servicing motor vehicle air conditioners must recover or recycle CFCs on-site or recover CFCs and send them off-site for recycling [40 CFR 82.34, click here].