cloudy
Wednesday May 27th, 2015 1:56AM

FBI issues warning about air conditioner coolant

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) -- As the U.S. tries to phase out a polluting refrigerant that is used in millions of air conditioners across the country, unapproved coolant is popping up on the market - with potentially dangerous consequences.<br /> <br /> The FBI is warning people to be on alert for refrigerant substitutes that have not been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some contain propane, which is flammable and can explode or catch fire if, for example, a technician servicing an air conditioner gets too close to the coolant while soldering. So far, the explosions have been rare.<br /> <br /> The problem has cropped up as the U.S. phases out R-22, a chemical used for decades as a refrigerant in air conditioners and refrigerators. Because R-22 destroys the ozone layer, it is being banned globally under an international treaty. The EPA is guiding the switch over to ozone-friendlier refrigerants, and has listed approved ones on its website.<br /> <br /> The phaseout caused prices of R-22 to skyrocket, increasing the demand for cheaper, unapproved replacements, many of which are made in China and sold on the black market. Products like "Super Freeze 22a" have been selling mostly online or over the telephone to home owners and "do-it-yourselfers," circumventing stores and regulators, the FBI said on its website. The FBI has launched an investigation into the sale of unapproved refrigerants but declined to answer questions from The Associated Press.<br /> <br /> It is unclear how many people may have fallen victim to a refrigerant scam. Reports of fires or explosions seem rare. The EPA, without citing specific examples, said it knows of cases in the U.S. and abroad where people have been injured after using unapproved refrigerants in air conditioners. Additionally, the agency took action against at least one U.S. company in 2013 for selling an unapproved refrigerant that had the potential to explode.<br /> <br /> There have been scattered reports of deaths overseas. A New Zealand firefighter was killed and seven others were seriously injured in a 2008 explosion blamed on a propane-based gas being used to cool a refrigeration warehouse, according to local media reports at the time. More recently, dock workers in Vietnam and Brazil were killed after giant shipping containers exploded when suspected counterfeit refrigerant was placed in their cooling units, according to shipping reports obtained by the U.N. Environment Programme.<br /> <br /> The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, an Arlington, Virginia-based trade association, has yet to hear about an accident occurring domestically, said Karim Amrane, vice president of regulatory policy and research with the group.<br /> <br /> Allison Bailes, founder of Energy Vanguard, an energy efficiency consulting and design firm in Decatur, Georgia, said consumers should choose only contractors who are licensed, preferably those who have North American Technical Excellence certification.<br /> <br /> "Tell them you want the type of refrigerant ... that it is manufactured for. If it's supposed to be R-22, then put R-22 in it," Bailes said. Companies that skirt the law are "creating the potential for greater cost to their customers and causing injury or death to techs who work on those systems later."<br /> <br /> ---<br /> <br /> Environmental Protection Agency:<br /> <br /> http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/r22a.html<br /> <br /> http://www.epa.gov/ozone/enforce/blackmkt.html(hash)cases<br /> <br /> http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/refrigerants/lists/homeac.html
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 4 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 4 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 4 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 4 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 4 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 4 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 4 months ago )
Local/State News
US rejects nuclear disarmament document over Israel concerns
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States on Friday blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states tried to "cynically manipulate" the process by...
9:33PM ( 4 days ago )
Obama again avoids calling 1915 Armenian killings 'genocide'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will once again stop short of calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians a genocide, prompting anger and disappointment from those who have been pushing him to ful...
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )
Ex-NFL star Hernandez convicted of murder, sentenced to life
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for a deadly late-night shooting, sealing the d...
8:54PM ( 1 month ago )
Clinton kicks off 2016 campaign online, heads next to Iowa
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton jumped back into presidential politics on Sunday, making a much-awaited announcement she will again seek the White House with a promise to serve as the "champi...
7:56PM ( 1 month ago )
Hall, White, Jefferson schools recognized nationally for use of technology
Three school districts in northeast Georgia - Hall, White, and Jefferson - have received national recognition for their use use of innovative technologies. They earned top spots in the Center for Digital Education's and the National School Boards Association's 10th annual Digital School Districts Survey.
By Staff
1:00PM ( 1 month ago )