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Bye, Bye R-507A, R-404A and Others; EPA to Ban More 'Unacceptable' Refrigerants

The list of refrigerants that refrigeration contractors have known as popular, efficient, and "forgiving," but that are now branded as "unacceptable" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grew by leaps and bounds on July 10, when EPA proposed to prohibit the use of certain chemicals that it says significantly contribute to climate change where what it describes as "safer, more climate-friendly alternatives" exist.

This is the agency’s second action aimed at reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of "potent greenhouse gases," under President Obama's Climate Action Plan.

EPA says it estimates the ban will reduce greenhouse gases by up to 42 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020, equal to the carbon dioxide emissions from the annual electricity use of more than five million homes.

“President Obama called on us to take action against potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Today, we are issuing a new proposal that builds on the innovative work businesses across the country have already made to reduce and replace some of the most harmful chemicals with safer, more climate-friendly alternatives that are available and on the market today,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This action will not only result in significant reductions of harmful greenhouse gases, but it will also encourage businesses to continue bringing safer alternatives to market.”

Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program evaluates substitute chemicals and technologies that are safe for the ozone layer. The proposed action would change the status of certain so-called "high-global warming potential (GWP) HFCs" that were previously listed as acceptable under the SNAP Program to be unacceptable in specific end-uses based on information showing that other alternatives are available for the same uses that pose lower risk overall to human health or the climate.


The HFCs and HFC-containing blends affected by today’s proposal are used in aerosols, motor vehicle air conditioning, retail food refrigeration and vending machines, and foam blowing.

Today’s proposal complements an earlier action EPA proposed to expand the list of climate-friendly alternatives for refrigeration and air conditioning under its SNAP Program.

The agency received input from industry, environmental groups and others through workshops and meetings over the past year on this proposal.

EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

In addition to more than a dozen automotive refrigerants and aerosol propellants, the new list includes:

  • For new and retrofit retail food refrigeration (including stand-alone equipment, condensing units, direct supermarket systems, and indirect supermarket systems) and for new and retrofit vending machines, as of January 1, 2016: the HFC blends R-507A and R-404A are unacceptable.
  • For new and retrofit retail food refrigeration (including direct supermarket systems and indirect supermarket systems), as of January 1, 2016: HFC-227ea, R-407B, R-421B, R-422A, R-422C, R-422D, R-428A, and R-434A are unacceptable.
  • For new, stand-alone retail food refrigeration and new vending machines, as of January 1, 2016: HFC-134a and certain other HFC refrigerant blends are unacceptable.
  • For all foam blowing end-uses, as of January 1, 2017, except where allowed under a narrowed use limit: HFC-134a and blends thereof are unacceptable; HFC-143a, HFC-245fa and HFC-365mfc and blends thereof, and the HFC blends Formacel B, and Formacel Z-6 are unacceptable in all foam blowing end-uses where they are currently listed as acceptable, except for spray foam applications; and the HFC blend Formacel TI is unacceptable in all foam blowing end-uses where it is currently listed as acceptable.


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