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The Refrigerant Sales Restriction

The following questions and answers provide information about the restriction on sales of refrigerant to Section 608 or 609 certified technicians. A table summarizing this sales restriction is found here.

What does the sales restriction cover?

This sales restriction covers all CFC and HCFC refrigerants contained in bulk containers (such as cylinders, cans or drums). Refrigerant blends containing HCFCs (such as FRIGC FR-12, Free Zone, Hot Shot® or R-414B, GHG-X4 or R-414A, Freeze 12) are also covered under this sales restriction.

This sales restriction does not cover refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment or components containing an ozone-depleting refrigerant (such as components of residential split systems containing HCFC-22, also called R-22). Nor does the restriction cover the retail sale of air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances containing CFC or HCFC refrigerants (such as window air conditioners).

However, as of January 1, 2010, EPA banned the import and production of air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances and appliance components that are pre-charged with R-22. More information on EPA's rule banning the sale of pre-charged appliances and appliance components is found here.

EPA has previously banned the sale and distribution of refrigeration and air-conditioning appliances containing CFCs (such as R-12), under the Nonessential Products Ban.

What type of certification is required to purchase refrigerant?

The following people can buy any type of ozone-depleting refrigerant under this sales restriction (for instance, R-11, R-12, R-123, R-22), except for "small cans" containing less than 20 pounds of R-12:

The following people can buy refrigerant found acceptable for use in a motor vehicle air conditioner (MVAC), including "small cans" containing less than 20 pounds of R-12:

Can Section 609 certified technicians purchase R-22?

Effective, September 22, 2003, EPA has limited the sale of ozone-depleting refrigerants intended for use with stationary refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment to section 608 technicians. Therefore, section 609 technicians cannot purchase R-22, regardless of container size.

Note, that for purposes of maintenance, repair, service, or disposal, that buses using R-22 are not defined as MVACs; therefore, Section 608 certification (Type II or Universal) is required to service buses using R-22.

Does the sales restriction apply to HFC refrigerants?

This sales restriction only applies to refrigerants consisting of an ozone-depleting substance. Therefore, HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, and HFC refrigerant blends that do not contain an ozone-depleting substance, such as R-404A and R-410A, are not currently covered under this sales restriction.

Refrigerant blends that consist of an HFC and an ozone-depleting substance (such as, FRIGC FR-12, Free Zone, Hot Shot® or R-414B, GHG-X4 or R-414A, Freeze 12) are captured under this sales restriction. Section 608 or 609 technician certification is required to purchase these refrigerants.

Is it legal to intentionally release refrigerants that are not captured under the sales restriction?

It is illegal to intentionally release any refrigerant during the maintenance, service, repair or disposal of refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, unless EPA determines that such a release does not pose a threat to the environment. It is illegal to intentionally vent all CFC, HCFC, and HFC refrigerants including, but not limited to, R-12, R-22, R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A.

What precautions must wholesalers take to ensure that persons who claim that they are purchasing refrigerant only for resale to certified technicians are actually doing so?

Wholesalers are legally responsible for ensuring that people who purchase refrigerant from them fit into one of the categories of people who can purchase refrigerant under the sales restriction (see the second question and answer above). Although the regulation does not specify precautions that wholesalers must take to verify the intent of individuals purchasing refrigerant for resale, EPA recommends that wholesalers who sell refrigerant for resale obtain at least a signed statement from the purchaser. This statement would state that the purchaser is purchasing the refrigerant only for eventual resale to certified technicians.

I understand that EPA recommends that wholesalers keep a list of persons (either by name or job title) who are authorized to pick up refrigerant for contractors who employ certified technicians. What if a contractor sends someone, such as a family member, to pick up refrigerant who is not on the list? What if a contractor wishes to have refrigerant delivered to his place of business when no employees or other authorized persons are present?

Under the regulations, wholesalers "may sell refrigerant to the purchaser or his authorized representative" if the purchaser provides evidence that he employs at least one certified technician. It is the wholesaler's responsibility to determine whether persons who claim to represent a refrigerant purchaser are indeed authorized representatives; EPA recommends, but does not require, that wholesalers keep lists of authorized representatives to help with this determination. Thus, if a wholesaler knows that a certain person is an authorized representative of a purchaser, then the wholesaler may sell that person refrigerant as the representative, even if the person does not appear on the list of representatives.

Similarly, if a wholesaler knows that refrigerant delivered to the location of a purchaser when no one is present will ultimately be received by the purchaser or his authorized representative, then the wholesaler may deliver the refrigerant without obtaining the signature of an authorized representative.

Do wholesalers have to record the quantity of refrigerant sold in a pre-charged part?

Under the regulations, any persons who sell CFC or HCFC refrigerants must retain invoices that indicate the name of the purchaser, the date of sale, and the quantity of refrigerant purchased. This applies to refrigerants contained in pre-charged parts as well as refrigerants contained in cylinders or drums. However, EPA recognizes that while the quantity of refrigerant contained in a pre-charged part may be standardized by the make and model of the part, this quantity may not be immediately obvious to the wholesaler. Therefore, rather than attempt to estimate the quantity of refrigerant in a pre-charged part, wholesalers may simply record the identity of the pre-charged part (e.g., make, model, and number) along with the purchaser and date of sale. EPA believes that most invoices already contain this information.

Does the sales restriction also apply to internet sales?

Yes, for refrigerant sales EPA considers persons selling via internet sites, auctions, classified ads, and other means as wholesalers who must comply with the recordkeeping requirements for sales of ozone-depleting refrigerant. 

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