The Clean Air Act
As a result of worldwide concerns about ozone depletion and global warming, refrigerants and the people who work with them have come under increasing regulation by government agencies. In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Clean Air Act, which calls for early phase-out of the most harmful refrigerants, eventual elimination of all CFCs and HCFCs, and strict refrigerant control and labeling requirements. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for implementing and enforcing this law. The Clean Air Act has a significant impact on the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration industry for the decade of the 1990’s and beyond. Here are some of the more important aspects:
• No voluntary or involuntary release of refrigerant can occur in any way that allows the refrigerant to enter our atmosphere, except for de-minimus (minimal) releases. Allowable minimal releases o f refrigerant are those that typically occur when connecting and disconnecting gauge manifold sets and refrigerant recovery service equipment. Anyone who knowingly releases refrigerant is subject to a stiff fine and possibly a prison term.
• Substantial leaks that occur in industrial processes, commercial refrigeration, comfort cooling chillers, and any other equipment that contains more than 50 pounds of refrigerant must be repaired.
• Anyone handling refrigerants must have EPA-sanctioned certification. Without it, you cannot even buy refrigerants.
• Records must be kept on all transactions involving refrigerants. This includes purchase, use, reprocessing, and disposal.
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