The Ontario government has introduced regulations which will prohibit CFC service starting next year.
After January 1, 2002, mobile air conditioners in cars, trucks and buses may no longer be refilled with refrigerants containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
“Auto makers have been using ozone-friendly refrigerant in all their new cars since 1996, ” said Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer. “People who drive older cars must ensure that they are up to today’s environmental standards.”
Old-technology air conditioners release an average of one-tenth of their refrigerant charge into the atmosphere each year, doing ongoing damage to the ozone layer. By prohibiting the refill of old-technology mobile air conditioners, the Ontario government will eventually eliminate the environmental harm done by air conditioning refrigerant emissions.
Ontario’s updated refrigerant regulation also strengthens the requirements for servicepeople who wish to purchase or use ozone-depleting refrigerants, including mandatory record keeping and immediately reporting large refrigerant releases to the ministry’s Spills Action Centre (1-800-268-6060).
“We are strongly in favour of the CFC refill ban,” said David Leonhardt, spokesperson for CAA Ontario. “This completes a process that the Canadian Automobile Association has long been supportive of.”
Ontario’s CFC refill ban is part of a regulatory update for legislation governing the handling and disposal of substances that deplete the Earth’s protective ozone layer. The initiatives announced today work hand-in-hand with the many elements of Ontario’s comprehensive air quality strategy, including:
Ontario’s Drive Clean program which, in its first two years, has cut smog-causing emissions from vehicles in its Phase I program area by 11.5 per cent;
a complete environmental protection framework for the electricity sector, including stringent emission caps;
a proposed requirement for the Lakeview Generating Station in Mississauga to cease burning coal; and
a comprehensive early action plan to combat greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.
BACKGROUNDER FROM THE GOVERNMENT
AMENDING ONTARIO’S REFRIGERANTS REGULATION
The Earth’s Ozone Layer and Our Health
The Earth’s ozone layer protects all life from the sun’s harmful rays. As ozone in the upper atmosphere has been depleted, this protective layer has thinned and more radiation has reached the Earth’s surface, leading to an increased threat of skin cancer, weakened immune systems, and damage to certain crops and marine organisms.
Over the last two decades, the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer has received a large amount of scientific and media attention. Human-made substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in air conditioners, foam products or aerosol spray cans have long been identified as ozone-depleting. Responding to this environmental threat, the international community decided to phase-out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals as outlined in the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. In developed countries, the production of CFCs was banned after 1995.
Strengthening the Existing Regulation
Ontario Regulation 189/94 sets standards for service people who handle ozone-depleting refrigerants, many of which are CFC-based. The regulation requires individuals who work on refrigeration equipment to complete environmental awareness training and certification known as the Ozone Depletion Prevention (ODP) card and adhere to strict guidelines when using or handling refrigerants.
In order to maximize environmental benefits and minimize the release of ozone-depleting substances into our atmosphere, the Ontario government is strengthening Ontario’s Refrigerants Regulation. The regulatory amendments to O.Reg 189/94 will improve the ODP card program, introduce stringent new standards of practice for handling ozone-depleting substances, and ban the refill of mobile air conditioners with CFC-based refrigerants.
The regulatory amendments will:
Require a mandatory re-examination of ODP cardholders every three years prior to issuing a new card. A voluntary refresher course will be made available for those whose cards have expired;
make mandatory the keeping of records when using refrigerants, including information on the date of purchase, the amount and type of refrigerant recovered, and the amount and type of refrigerant used for each repair;
introduce technical standards of practice for leak testing and other procedures;
enhance the clarity and enforceability of the regulation by introducing clear definitions and removing outdated provisions;
make mandatory the immediate reporting of refrigerant releases of 100 kilograms or greater to the Ministry’s Spills Action Centre; and
prohibit the refilling of mobile air conditioners used in passenger, commercial, industrial and agricultural vehicles with any CFC-based refrigerants after January 1, 2002.
Mobile Air Conditioning and the Ozone Layer
Every air conditioning unit contains refrigerant. Until the 1993 model year, air conditioning units in cars contained a CFC-based refrigerant (called Freon or R-12) that is highly ozone-depleting. During the model years 1993 to 1995, auto manufacturers began the switch to ozone-friendly refrigerants. Many vehicles sold before December 31, 1995, however, still use ozone-depleting refrigerants. In most cars, a label under the hood clearly identifies the type of refrigerant used.
In the past, when the air conditioner in one of these vehicles needed service, garages typically repaired any leaks and refilled the system with CFC-based refrigerant. Since no CFC-based refrigerants have been produced since 1996 and stockpiles are dwindling, this practice has become progressively more expensive. Under the amended regulation, after January 1, 2002, no vehicle owner with a CFC-based air conditioning system requiring service, can refill it with CFC-based refrigerant.
Old air conditioning equipment can be made compatible with the new refrigerant. For most units, this is a very simple procedure, while some systems may need additional parts. On average, converting a pre-1996 mobile air conditioner to run on ozone-friendly refrigerant will cost $320. This air conditioning conversion is expected to be only marginally more expensive than a refill with the older, more expensive and ozone-depleting refrigerant and is an investment in the health of our ozone layer.
Clear Environmental Benefits
The CFC refill ban for mobile air conditioning units will measurably reduce the release of old, ozone-depleting refrigerant into the atmosphere and further reduce the environmental footprint of vehicles used in Ontario. Over one third of the CFCs in Canada are used to service air conditioning units in cars, trucks and buses.
Studies have shown that collectively, old-technology mobile air conditioners lose about 10 per cent of their total charge to the environment every year. Without Ontario’s new refill ban on CFC-based refrigerant, old-technology air conditioning units would eventually use up and release all of the remaining stockpile of ozone-depleting refrigerant into the atmosphere.
In its fight against the depletion of the Earth’s protective ozone layer, the Ontario government is counting on the people of Ontario. In partnership with industry, municipalities, community organizations and every single Ontarian, the Ontario government will continue to aggressively tackle the environmental challenges of the 21st century. The health of our environment is everybody’s business.
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