FBI issues AC coolant warning

Saturday, July 19, 2014 10:26 AM
Last updated 6:40 PM
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ATLANTA — As the U.S. tries to phase out a polluting refrigerant that is used in millions of air conditioners across the country, unapproved coolant is popping up on the market — with potentially dangerous consequences.

The FBI is warning people to be on alert for refrigerant substitutes that have not been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some contain propane, which is flammable and can explode or catch fire if, for example, a technician servicing an air conditioner gets too close to the coolant while soldering. So far, the explosions have been rare.

The problem has cropped up as the U.S. phases out R-22, a chemical used for decades as a refrigerant in air conditioners and refrigerators. Because R-22 destroys the ozone layer, it is being banned globally under an international treaty. The EPA is guiding the switch over to ozone-friendlier refrigerants, and has listed approved ones on its website.

The phaseout caused prices of R-22 to skyrocket, increasing the demand for cheaper, unapproved replacements, many of which are made in China and sold on the black market. Products like “Super Freeze 22a” have been selling mostly online or over the telephone to home owners and “do-it-yourselfers,” circumventing stores and regulators, the FBI said on its website. The FBI has launched an investigation into the sale of unapproved refrigerants but declined to answer questions from The Associated Press.

It is unclear how many people may have fallen victim to a refrigerant scam. Reports of fires or explosions seem rare. The EPA, without citing specific examples, said it knows of cases in the U.S. and abroad where people have been injured after using unapproved refrigerants in air conditioners. Additionally, the agency took action against at least one U.S. company in 2013 for selling an unapproved refrigerant that had the potential to explode.

There have been scattered reports of deaths overseas. A New Zealand firefighter was killed and seven others were seriously injured in a 2008 explosion blamed on a propane-based gas being used to cool a refrigeration warehouse, according to local media reports at the time. More recently, dock workers in Vietnam and Brazil were killed after giant shipping containers exploded when suspected counterfeit refrigerant was placed in their cooling units, according to shipping reports obtained by the U.N. Environment Programme.

The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, an Arlington, Virginia-based trade association, has yet to hear about an accident occurring domestically, said Karim Amrane, vice president of regulatory policy and research with the group.

Allison Bailes, founder of Energy Vanguard, an energy efficiency consulting and design firm in Decatur, Georgia, said consumers should choose only contractors who are licensed, preferably those who have North American Technical Excellence certification.

“Tell them you want the type of refrigerant ... that it is manufactured for. If it’s supposed to be R-22, then put R-22 in it,” Bailes said. Companies that skirt the law are “creating the potential for greater cost to their customers and causing injury or death to techs who work on those systems later.”

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dichotomy
34415
Points
dichotomy 07/19/14 - 10:46 am
10
1
This is what happens when the

This is what happens when the government artificially inflates the price of a product astronomically based on a social engineering EPA crusade when there is still a legitimate demand for it. Although the article says there was a global ban on R-22 it is still commonly available in many parts of the world and you can still get all of it you want here IF YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY THE ARTIFICIAL ASTRONOMICALLY GOVERNMENT INFLATED PRICE.

So now most of the rest of the world is still using R-22 or a dangerous substitute and Americans are stuck with car air conditioners that don't work as well, HARDLY AT ALL IF YOU ARE STUCK IN TRAFFIC.

The new ban on coal is the R-22 BAN....THE SEQUEL. Only Americans will pay the financial price and comply. GLOBAL impact = ZERO.

gargoyle
18573
Points
gargoyle 07/19/14 - 12:51 pm
5
1
The only problem with R-22 is

The only problem with R-22 is the Dupont patent ran out . Same with R-12 , that was a cash cow and low and behold who has the patent rights on the approved refrigerants now. A lot of junk science, lobbying and bureaucratic overstep has kept a company collecting royalities and the sheeple thinking their safe.

happychimer
18598
Points
happychimer 07/19/14 - 01:22 pm
2
10
Why anyone would not want to

Why anyone would not want to breathe clean air and protect the ozone is beyond me. Repubs want to destroy the earth.

Sweet son
10736
Points
Sweet son 07/19/14 - 02:52 pm
7
0
The old refrigerant is still available to licensed HVAC techs

as it should be. There are too many old AC units that perform well and will continue to when it is used. The only time to change is when the AC unit has died and needs to be replaced.

I am actually having a new Heat/Air system installed in a home I purchased 36 years ago and the old one has never given up until a week ago and the tech even said that it was amazing that he could still vacuum out the original Freon.

stuaby
4356
Points
stuaby 07/19/14 - 04:48 pm
8
2
"Why anyone would not want to

"Why anyone would not want to breathe clean air and protect the ozone is beyond me."

Come on, man, R-22 is not a threat to the ozone layer.

Rule #335: Don't believe any 'research' reports than say that "____" (R-22, CO, CO2, aerosol propellant, etc., etc.) is tearing up "____" in the earth's upper atmosphere.

It's all BS used to generate cash flows. University research grants, new taxes, fees, corporate R&D funding, etc.

It's always the atmosphere that's being supposedly torn up. Clever, because it's too hard to debunk these boutique theories that get people's knees to jerk.

stuaby
4356
Points
stuaby 07/19/14 - 04:55 pm
8
2
After the manufactured R-22

After the manufactured R-22 hysteria is milked to the last drop, some scientist will come out with a theory that some other commonly used fluid is tearing up something somewhere in the environment (in th upper stratosphere, no doubt).

This shell game has been going on for decades now.

I wonder what it'll be. Motor oil? Pam cooking spray? Nope, won't be Pam because...well, never mind.

stuaby
4356
Points
stuaby 07/19/14 - 04:59 pm
7
2
Of course, now that I've made

Of course, now that I've made the statements above:

"You don't believe science!"
""97% of scientists say that R-22..."
"Everybody who has any sense knows that R-22, CO2...."

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 07/19/14 - 07:24 pm
0
0
jimmy carter should
Unpublished

have been put down like a mad hyena for creating the mass destructive powers of the epa.

Gage Creed
17859
Points
Gage Creed 07/19/14 - 08:45 pm
3
0
Phased out Refrigerants..

R-11... I can get that
R-12... I can get that
R-22... I can get that
R-113.. I can get that
R-500.. I can get that
R-502.. I can get that

All you gotta have is the dollars.. (and an EPA card)

itsanotherday1
45404
Points
itsanotherday1 07/20/14 - 05:53 am
1
0
Gage

What is required to get an EPA card?

Dixieman
15997
Points
Dixieman 07/20/14 - 06:47 am
5
0
Classic black market

1. Government stupidly bans something for political reasons disguised as science.
2. Black market for it immediately springs up.
3. Counterfeit stuff follows.
4. Steep price increase under #2 and #3.
5. Public safety harmed under #3. (Real harm, unlike phoney scare under #1).
6. Government is too incompetent to prevent #2 and #3.
7. Government acts surprised that this is happening though it ALWAYS DOES as anyone who knows any history could tell you.

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 07/20/14 - 08:53 am
4
0
"The EPA, without citing

"The EPA, without citing specific examples, said it knows of cases in the U.S. and abroad where people have been injured after using unapproved refrigerants in air conditioners."

Wow, this automatically makes me very suspicious!! The EPA is just another arm of the government, being used to supress Americans!!

They are the ones also trying to control ANY property, that has water of any type on it!! So, if you have a pond or creek, on ANY size on your property, they want to have FIRST SAY, in what you can do with that property; because of the precious natural resource!! Just another way of forcing CONTROL upon the people, all in the name of saving the planet or safety!!

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 07/20/14 - 08:59 am
4
0
Exactly the mission!!

"The new ban on coal is the R-22 BAN....THE SEQUEL. Only Americans will pay the financial price and comply. GLOBAL impact = ZERO."

You're absolutely correct!! The global impace of this regulation will be ZERO; because the biggest "offenders" like China, will pay zero attention to it!!

But who will be greatly affected by this? The American Citizen!! Prices have and will continue to skyrocket because of this EPA regulation, as usual.

Also as usual, more harm done to American's with no other Country being affected!! Another way to "level the playing field"? By punishing American's in their walets, but doing nothing to other Countries?

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 07/20/14 - 09:02 am
3
0
Sometime I actually feel

Sometime I actually feel sorry for those people who blindly believe we're destroying the earth!! It must be a terrible life to walk around, always wondering when you're going to smother to death from lack of oxygen!!

On second thought; no I don't!! It's their own fault!! They need to wallow in their own naiveness!! They deserve any anxiety created from their willingness to be so easily deceived!!

deestafford
28681
Points
deestafford 07/20/14 - 09:08 am
4
0
Let's get this straight...

Let's get this straight. There never was a "hole" in the ozone layer.

These "chicken little" do gooders fail to look at history and fail to realize, or maybe admit, that everything happening is part of the cyclic nature of our planet.

This morning on my daily walk I was listening to NPR, which I do on Sunday mornings since Bill Bennett is on only on weekdays, and this pleading-voice interviewer was talking with the mayor of South Miami and the mayor was talking about how strong currents and high winds are causing problems with sea water going into the streets and how it's "Climate Disruption" (note it's no longer "Global Warming") the cause. If he would look at pictures of Miami and most of South Florida a hundred years ago he would see that the area was nothing more than a mangrove swamp and water had to be pumped out to make dry land.

These people are idiots! Read and study history, not some model cooked up by someone being paid by a grant to show global warming is happening and what will occur if all the sea ice melted---a 60-70 foot rise in the sea level.

A computer model can be made to predict anything they want it to...except using it to predict what has already happened climate wise.

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 07/20/14 - 02:40 pm
3
0
I've said before...

With all the different scientific opinions on global warming (also called climage change/climate disruption, etc) they are no different than psychologist's paid to give their opinion on whether a criminal defendent is competent to stand trial!!

The psychologist's paid by the defense, ALWAYS say the defendent is (paraphrasing) is crazy and not competent to stand trial!!

The psychologist's paid by the prosecution, ALWAYS say the defendent is not crazy and is very competent to stand trial!!

Many scientists are no different!! It's all about WHO is paying them for the study!! They don't want to upset the person; whom the paychecking is coming from; because they might find a new scientist if this scientist's "findings" don't agree with their interests!!

Gage Creed
17859
Points
Gage Creed 07/20/14 - 07:00 pm
2
0
IAD

You have to stand a test on refrigerant recovery and reclaim processes. You also have to maintain refrigerant logs on the refrigerant you buy, sell, or store.

http://www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/608/technicians/certoutl.html

http://www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/608/608fact.html

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