Pollution Prevention Guides for
Auto Body Shops - Fact Sheet 14
Refrigerants containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), such as
CFC-12, are suspected of contributing to the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. The
stratospheric ozone layer acts as a blanket in the stratosphere that protects the planet from
harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. For this reason, CFC-containing refrigerant production has
been phased out. The release of refrigerants during the servicing of air conditioners is also prohibited. Service
shops must use refrigerant recycling equipment to work on vehicle air conditioners.
To help protect the environment:
- Service motor vehicle air conditions appropriately
- Use a less hazardous alternative
Servicing Motor Vehicle Air Conditioners
To help prevent the release of CFC-containing refrigerants and their less hazardous substitutes into the
environment during air conditioning servicing:
- Use United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved refrigerant
- Technicians repairing or servicing air conditioning systems must be trained and certified
by an EPA-approved organization to use approved equipment.
- Check for and repair leaks in air conditioning systems prior to recharging.
- Recover the used refrigerant and recycle it on-site or ship it to an off-site reclamation
There are a number of viable substitutes for CFC-12 refrigerants, such as HFC-134a
(hydrofluorcarbon), on the market today. Note that other than HFC-134a, all EPA-accepted refrigerant
substitutes are blends that contain ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC), such as R-22. Review
the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of the alternative you are interested in -- avoid it if it contains CFCs or
Before switching over to an alternative refrigerant, make sure it is an EPA-approved refrigerant and
has been approved by the vehicle or air conditioner or manufacturer. You will probably have to modify the
vehicle's air conditioning system before you can use an alternative refrigerant. If you have CFC-12 recovery
and/or recycling equipment, you will also have to convert the equipment to handle the substitute refrigerant.
|1) Do you provide air conditioning service?
If so, you should be EPA-trained to use EPA-approved
recovery and/or recycling equipment in order to reduce the
possibility of a refrigerant release.
|2) Do you keep different types of refrigerants separate?
Do not mix refrigerants. The newer alternative refrigerants are
not compatible with the older refrigerants and equipment.
Commingling refrigerants could render the system inoperable
|3) Are air conditioning systems first checked for leaks
It has never been good business practice to add coolant to a
leaking air conditioning system. Deny requests for refrigerant
recharging if customers will not allow you to check their
vehicle's cooling system.
|4) Do you recover and/or recycle spent refrigerants?
Widespread refrigerant recycling reduces the demand for
virgin CFC-12 and thus extends the time that it will be
available. There are EPA-approved recovery and recycling
(removes and recycles) and recovery-only (removes and
stores) equipment available.
|5) Do you keep records of any air conditioning services
done in your shop?
Auto body shops must certify to EPA that they own approved
equipment. If refrigerant is recovered and sent to a
reclamation facility, the name and address of that facility must
|6) Are you prepared to use the alternative refrigerants?
Most new cars come with HFC-134a. However, before older
cars can be retrofitted to use substitutes, check with the
vehicle or air conditioner manufacturer.
|7) Do you dispose of your used coolant recycler filters
as hazardous waste?
Prior to disposal, contact your supplier to see if used filters
are recyclable in your area. If not, they must be disposed of
properly. If they prove to be hazardous, they must be
disposed as a hazardous waste. If they are non-hazardous,
they can be dried and landfilled with the approval of your local
solid waste authority.
Montana State University Extension Service
Pollution Prevention Program Taylor Hall Bozeman, Montana 59717
The United States Environmental Protection Agency
(Fact Sheet 14 of 18)
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