Walking into your cool home after a hot summer day can provide much relief and comfort, but it is imperative for anyone utilizing an HVAC system to know whether the chemical R-22 is present in their system. If your HVAC system was purchased in 2010 or earlier, research should be done to see if this chemical was used to run your system.
It is also important to understand the ramifications of using R-22 and why it will soon be phased out and illegal to use in the United States.
What is R-22?
R-22 is classified as a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and has been the key refrigerant in HVAC systems for over 20 years. Some people might know this chemical by its popular brand name Freon. Although this product has become a household name, it is not a substance that should be used carelessly or, as the Environmental Protection Agency has decided, at all.
As of December 31, 2014 the EPA banned the use of R-22 in any HVAC systems purchased or installed after 2010. By January 1, 2020 the purchase or use of this chemical will be illegal. R-22 is categorized as a Class II ozone-depleting substance. Research shows that Class II substances damage the ozone layer, thus causing contributing to the effects of climate change. Many HVAC companies are actively providing their customers guidance on how to identify if their systems use R-22 and how to transition to a unit that does not.
A chemical that is odorless and tasteless can be extremely dangerous due to its insidious nature. R-22 poses a threat to those who work with this chemical for that very reason. As reported on Medical News Today, refrigerant poisoning happens when someone inhales or ingests too much of a particular substance because they are unaware that it is happening.
Although a person using this chemical may not immediately realize they have been poisoned, they may soon experience symptoms like headaches, dizziness, eye irritation, and nausea or vomiting. Someone experiencing these symptoms must seek medical attention immediately at the nearest emergency room. For more information, contact the National Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
The Future of Air Conditioning
While R-22 is being phased out, newer and safer chemicals like R-407C have shown to have less of a negative impact on the environment. It is also known to be much less costly than other R-22 replacements in the market. You can check to see the type of refrigerant your unit utilizes by reading the manufacturer’s data plate located on the condenser or air handler.
Whether you are looking to lower your carbon footprint or find a safer alternative chemical for your household, understanding what substances are being used in appliances is highly recommended. If you’re looking to purchase a new HVAC unit or a new home, be sure to enlist the help of professionals to guide you in making the best choices for you, your family, and the environment.