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EPA Finalizes Significant New Use Rule for Motor Vehicle Refrigerant


Agency acknowledges ASA’s concern for consumer use.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a significant new use rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for the chemical substance identified as 1-Propene, 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoro, also known as HFO-1234yf.

The action requires persons who intend to manufacture, import or process the chemical substance for a use that is designated as a significant new use by this final rule to notify the EPA at least 90 days before commencing that activity.

The EPA believes this action is necessary because the chemical substance may be hazardous to human health. The required notification would provide the EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, to prohibit or limit that activity before it occurs.

In a letter to the U.S. EPA earlier this year, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) expressed concern with the substitution of HFO-1234yf because it poses some risk to those handling the product, particularly non-professionals or do-it-yourself (DIY) consumers. ASA asked that the EPA include both a certification process and an equipment requirement for any purchasers of HFO-1234fy due to the flammability of the proposed substitute.

The EPA significant new use rule states that the substance is to be used only as a refrigerant in new motor vehicles, and that any other use must first be approved by the EPA. The agency is also considering a proposed rule that falls under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) that would allow for the use of 1234yf as a substitute for R-12 in new motor vehicles.

Currently, the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review alternatives for ozone-depleting substances and to approve of substitutes that do not present a risk more significant than other alternatives that are available. Under that authority, the SNAP program proposes to expand the list of acceptable substitutes for ozone-depleting substances (ODS). The proposed substitute is a non-ozone-depleting gas and consequently does not contribute to ozone depletion.

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