Washington restricts refrigerants linked to global warming

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Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are a group of chemicals used in refrigeration and other applications that can have thousands of times more global warming impact than carbon dioxide. Washington has been working to reduce the use of these chemicals, and new rules adopted by the Washington State Department of Ecology will prohibit manufacturers from using certain HFCs in new air conditioners (including heat pumps) and commercial refrigeration equipment sold in Washington.

According to a recent Ecology news release, the new rules will also establish a refrigerant management program with registration, leak inspection, leak repair, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements for owners or operators of large stationary refrigeration and air conditioning systems. The program takes effect Jan. 1.

HFCs are the fastest-growing category of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and account for at least 4% of statewide greenhouse gas emissions here in Washington. Fortunately, many manufacturers have already moved to safer alternatives that are readily available, Ecology said.

The Washington Legislature passed the HFC law in 2021, requiring manufacturers to use safer refrigerants and prevent the accidental release of HFCs from existing equipment. The state law complements federal EPA requirements to transition to more environmentally friendly refrigerants.

Further information on the rule is available on Ecology’s HFC rulemaking website.

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