As a result of a lawsuit brought by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) and the Automotive Refrigeration Products Institute (ARPI), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a final rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that will permit R-1234yf to be sold to consumers so that they can recharge their vehicle air conditioning systems. Developed by Honeywell and DuPont, HFO 1234yf will likely be used by many vehicle manufacturers to replace R-134a due to its lower global warming potential (GWP). HFO 1234yf has a GWP of 4, while 134a has a GWP of 1430. General Motors has already begun using the new refrigerant on some of its vehicle lines and others are expected to follow suit soon.
EPA had originally issued a significant new use rule (SNUR) that would have required anyone to notify EPA at least 90 days prior to the manufacture or processing of 1234yf for consumer use to recharge a motor vehicle air conditioning system based on toxicity concerns. However, AAIA and ARPI filed suit against the agency claiming that the studies used to make the toxicity determination grossly overstated human exposure levels. Following a review of the data submitted by AAIA and ARPI that indicated that there was no adverse impact on consumers from recharging their air conditioner using 1234yf, EPA decided to reverse its decision.
The new rule becomes effective on Dec. 2, 2013 and the Federal Register Notice can be found at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-11-01/pdf/2013-25981.pdf.