New York Sea Grant's
Marina Pollution Prevention Web Site
Section 1: Mechanical Activities
Potential Environmental Impacts
Refrigerants become an environmental problem when they escape
into the air. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs, or FreonTM) are gases
used primarily as refrigerants in motor vehicle air conditioners,
building air conditioning units, refrigerators and freezers. When
CFCs are released into the air, they rise into the upper atmosphere
where they damage the protective ozone layer in the stratosphere.
A single CFC molecule can destroy 100,000 molecules of ozone.
The ozone layer absorbs the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation,
and as it is damaged, living things on the earth become exposed
to harmful UV radiation which can lead to skin cancer and cataracts.
alternatives to ozone-depleting refrigerants. These alternatives
include HFC-134 (or R-134a), R-409a and R-404a.
- The EPA does
not require that refrigerant leaks be repaired, although it recommends
that vehicle owners consider repairing leaks to reduce emissions
and extend the useful life of their air conditioner. Repair of
leaking systems will help vehicle owners avoid the need to continue
to refill systems with high priced refrigerant.
- For more
information on CFC handling, contact the EPA at (800) 821-1237,
or the National CFC Hotline at (800) 296-1996, between 10:00 a.m.
to 4:00 p.m.
who services air conditioners must be certified in the proper
use of CFC recovery and recycling equipment [Clean Air Act,
Title VI, Section 608 and 609, 40 CFR 82.34, click
- The Clean
Air Act prohibits release of CFCs and halons. Anyone repairing
or servicing motor vehicle air conditioners must recover or recycle
CFCs on-site or recover CFCs and send them off-site for recycling
[40 CFR 82.34, click