Freon Refrigerant

Freon” is a trade name for a family of refrigerants manufactured by DuPont and other companies. These refrigerants were commonly used due to their superior stability and safe properties. Unfortunately, evidence has accumulated that these chlorine-bearing refrigerants reach the upper atmosphere when they escape. Once the refrigerant reaches the stratosphere, UV radiation from the Sun cleaves the chlorine-carbon bond, yielding a chlorine radical. These chlorine atoms catalyze the breakdown of ozone into diatomic oxygen, depleting the ozone layer that shields the Earth’s surface from strong UV radiation. Each chlorine radical remains active as a catalyst unless it binds with another chlorine radical, forming a stable molecule and breaking the chain reaction. CFC refrigerant is common, but decreasing usage includes R-11 and R-12. In light of these environmental concerns, beginning on November 14, 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency has restricted the sale, possession and use of refrigerant to only licensed technicians, per Rules 608 and 609 of the EPA rules and regulations; failure to comply may result in criminal and civil sanctions.

Newer and more environmentally-safe refrigerants such as HCFCs (R-22, used in most homes today) and HFCs (R-134a, used in most cars) have replaced most CFC use. HCFCs in turn are being phased out under the Montreal Protocol and replaced by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) such as R-410A, which lack chlorine.