The European Chemical Agency has published its proposals for bans of fluorinated substances under the REACH regulations, giving the cooling industry six months to respond.
The European Chemicals Agency has published its proposed schedule of bans for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS.
As proposed, fluorinated refrigerants, namely HFOs and HFCs, would be banned from manufacture and sale where suitable alternatives exist.
The proposals stated: “HFOs shall not be manufactured, used or placed on the market as substances on their own [and] shall not be placed on the market in: A) another substance, as a constituent; B) a mixture, or C) an article. Significantly, no ban would apply in building applications where national standards and building codes prohibit a substitute on flammability or other grounds. The Agency notes that these standards are reviewed regularly, so in practice it is not an unlimited exemption.
Also, under the current proposals, HFOs would be exempt from the bans until six and a half years after the law is enforced for applications of -50 deg C and under. An exemption of 13.5 years would apply for the maintenance and refilling of existing HVACR systems ‘where no drop-in exists’.
The proposals added: “The development in HVACR equipment gradually makes refrigerant loadings lower and equipment safer and it is expected that the standards and codes over time are allowing more use of PFAS-free refrigerants.”
The Agency says the schedule of bans “[A]ddresses the risks to the environment and human health of the use of PFAS… The irreversibility of the process of a growing environmental stock of PFASs, with associated exposure of humans and the environment, make it necessary to reduce emissions of PFAS to a minimum…”
Industry bodies are expected to respond forcefully to the proposals, with a six-month window allowed for responses to the consultation.