Legally purchasing R-12 refrigerant for recharging or refilling motor vehicle air-conditioning systems requires certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Section 609 of the Clean Air Act. This restriction went into effect in 1995 and limits purchases to technicians approved by EPA-certified testing organizations and certain wholesalers. According to the EPA, being certified under Section 609 of the Clean Air Act ensures that a technician has been properly trained and that he owns and knows how to use the proper equipment used to recharge a vehicle's air-conditioning system and how to recover used R-12 refrigerant. R-12 is also known as CFC-12 and several brand names, most notably DuPont's trademarked "Freon-12."
Things You'll Need
- EPA-approved training.
- Certification from an EPA-approved testing facility.
Visit the website of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA provides a list of approved training and certification programs on its website. According to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) at ase.com, "training programs must cover the use of recycling equipment in compliance with industry standards, regulatory requirements, refrigerant containment, and the effects of ozone depletion."
Choose a certification program. The certification programs' websites listed by the EPA provide access to training manuals, practice tests and the test itself. The ASE charges $15 for the online quiz. Other training programs list prices in the $15 to $20 range.
Successfully complete an EPA-approved certification program by correctly answering 21 of 25 multiple-choice questions, according to http://www.epatest.com. The testing facility will issue your certificate.
Find an approved wholesaler or reseller of R-12. Sellers include www.refrigerant.net.
Tips & Warnings
- A qualified auto technician can convert your vehicle's air-conditioning system to run on R-134a, which has been used in auto air conditioning systems since the U.S. banned the production and importation of R-12 in 1995.
- Once a technician converts your vehicle to use R-134a, you can legally purchase replacement refrigerant in any auto parts store, other retail locations that carry auto parts, and online. Consumer-friendly recharging kits are usually sold at the same locations.
- Any R-12 legally used in the U.S. since the ban comes from stockpiled product.
- According to the EPA, the ban on R-12 refrigerant came about because the gas damages the Earth's ozone layer. Releasing R-12 into the air hurts the environment.
- The EPA's Office of Compliance and Enforcement is charged enforces the regulations. Violating the law can lead to civil fines or criminal prosecution.