The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced two final rules that will further cut ozone-depleting pollutants, protecting the Earth’s ozone layer and reducing harmful greenhouse gases. The rules reduce the availability and use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are primarily used as refrigerants and harm the ozone layer. A diminished ozone layer [hole pictured in purple at right] allows more radiation to reach the Earth’s surface, leading to serious health effects, such as skin cancer, cataracts, and weakened immune systems.
The first rule prohibits the use of specific HCFCs to manufacture new air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment beginning in 2010, while allowing limited HCFC use to service existing equipment. The second rule prohibits the sale, distribution, and import of air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances and their components containing certain HCFCs that are manufactured or imported after January 1, 2010. The rulemakings protect the ozone layer by decreasing the availability of these compounds as well as the demand for newly-produced equipment containing HCFCs.
These rules advance U.S. compliance under the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. More information on the two rules.