Manufacturing Injury prevention Workplace exposures

EPA warns air-conditioning techs about refrigerant substitutes

Washington – The Environmental Protection Agency is warning air-conditioning technicians, contractors, and propane manufacturers and sellers that the use of propane or other unapproved refrigerants in air-conditioning systems can lead to fires or explosions.

R-22, a refrigerant widely used in home air-conditioning systems, is being phased out of production because of its ozone-depleting effects. Some propane and other dangerous refrigerants have been advertised as an alternative for R-22, but an EPA statement issued July 1 warned that these unapproved substitutes have led to injuries.

The agency said air-conditioning technicians and similar professionals should use EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy Program to find suitable R-22 replacements.

EPA has not approved propane or other hydrocarbon refrigerants for use in any type of air conditioner. Propane has been approved as an R-22 substitute refrigerant only in industrial process refrigeration systems, as well as new, stand-alone retail food units designed to use flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants.