Freon, often known by the name R-22 or Freon 22, was deemed to be a hazardous refrigerant by the Clean Air Act of 1990. Freon is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), a harmful man-made substance that has been shown to damage the ozone layer and threaten human health.
When Freon enters the atmosphere, chemical reactions occur with the sun's UV radiation. The resulting breakdown releases separate chemicals, most notably chlorine, that then react with and degrade ozone. As ozone disappears, increasingly large amount of UV radiation are able to penetrate the atmosphere, contributing to major issues like global warming and skin cancer.
The refrigerant is also unsafe for humans and animals, although accidental exposure is rare. Freon is heavier than air, so it can displace oxygen in the lungs and stay there, causing asphyxiation and death. Furthermore, like all HCFCs, Freon is toxic. Effects of exposure can include cardiac arrhythmias, dizziness, loss of consciousness and central nervous system suppression at concentrations of only 11 percent. This presents an especially worrying problem due to Freon's chemical nature. As a colorless and odorless gas, it cannot be detected by sight or smell if it is leaking from an appliance.
Due to these factors, the use of Freon as a refrigerant is being gradually eliminated. Instead, authorities and industry leaders are now suggesting that homeowners switch to the new Puron refrigerant for their cooling needs.
Puron also goes by the name of R-410a. It has won approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an ideal replacement for Freon 22, and is the first refrigerant on the market to address ozone depletion.
Phasing Out Freon 22
Freon is still found today in the vast majority of American homes. Nonetheless, under the Montreal Protocol, steps have put in place to gradually ease the country out of its dependence on Freon and ultimately abolish its production and use.
Between 1996 and 2004, the production of Freon 22 fell by 35 percent. In 2010, Freon production was further cut by between 65 and 75 percent, which, with unanimous support, was sped up by ten percent at the Montreal Protocol Agreement's 20th anniversary in 2007. Moreover, the United States government is now requiring producers of Freon to sell exclusively equipment that does not contain R-22. This has cause much industry upheaval as companies rush to change their practices in order to comply with the law.
By 2015, experts want to see Freon production fall by 90 percent. Their hope is that, by the year 2020, Freon use will be phased out almost completely. Naturally, as R-22 is becoming more scarce, the costs per-pound of the gas are expected to rise sharply because of supply and demand.
This isn't the first time this has happened. Worried about its effects on the environment, the government worked to phase out another ozone-depleting automotive refrigerant, R-12, in the late 1980s. Anyone who possessed a car during this period may recall just how quickly the prices of R-12 spiked, or the financial impact of making upgrades to accommodate the new option. Indeed, between 1990 and 1997, the prices of R-12 refrigerant jumped by a staggering 650 percent.
What It Means For You
You can generally expect to get about 12 years of use out of an air conditioner in Florida, which means:
If you buy an air conditioner today, by the time it's reached the end of its life, Freon manufacture will have been halted, rendering it obsolete.
Freon will continue to be available until 2020, but it's likely to become prohibitively expensive.
Who Manufactures Puron Refrigerant?
So far, there has been only one company that has been an industry leader in manufacturing appliances that utilize Puron, and that is Carrier. Carrier has been offering products that use Puron for almost 18 years, and they've been installed in homes across the country. Appliances that use Puron have been shown to be among the most durable ones available, and they've even gained a national reputation for their dependability.
So far, Puron is used as a refrigerant in over 20,000 active AHRI-rated appliances. You can count on Carrier to offer the quality products you require to help you achieve cutting-edge standards. If it's time to retire your old Freon-containing air conditioner, consider switching to a Puron air conditioner. It's safer for you and the environment, easier on your wallet and will become increasingly relevant technology in coming years.
Give Mahle Cool Air a call today to find out more about our Puron systems.