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

Release Date: 07/21/2014
Contact Information: Enesta Jones, Jones.enesta@epa.gov, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355

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.

More information about R-22a and alternatives for air conditioning: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/r22a.html