Ozone Depleting Substances, Refrigeration, Etc.

EPA Enforcement Actions
EPA is serious about enforcing ODS regulations. Read about enforcement actions, ranging from civil fines to criminal prosecutions.

An ozone-depleting substance (ODS) is a chemical substance, usually consisting of some combination of chlorine, fluorine, or bromine plus carbon, such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons that has been shown to destroy stratospheric ozone. These substances are commonly found in aerosol products, foams, and fire extinguishers, and are used as refrigerants and in air-conditioning and cooling equipment.

Ozone-depleting substances are divided into two classes:

  • Class I includes the fully halogenated CFCs, halons, and the ODSs that are the most threatening to the ozone layer.

  • Class II compounds are those substances that are known or reasonably anticipated to have harmful effects on the stratospheric ozone layer. Class II substances are all hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC).

Importing Ozone Depleting Chemicals
(i.e., refrigerant gas)

Under Title VI of the Clean Air Act, EPA regulates the import of ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) into the United States. Requirements differ for virgin and used ODSs as well as for Class I and Class II ODSs (see EPA import rules). If an ODS is imported into the United States, the importer is subject to recordkeeping and reporting requirements (described below). It is important to note that the import of virgin HCFCs, including HCFC-22, requires a consumption allowance for each kilogram of HCFC imported. Importing without the proper allowances is an illegal act and could result in an enforcement action. More detail is provided in the previous link.

Importing Appliances and Components Containing HCFC Refrigerants

The Pre-Charged Appliances rule prohibits the sale or distribution, or offer for sale or distribute, appliances or components that 1) contain HCFC-22 or HCFC-142b (or blends containing) and 2) were manufactured after January 1, 2010. This means an importer is not allowed to import for sale or distribution into the United States, any pre-charged air-conditioning and refrigeration products and components containing HCFC-22, HCFC-142b, or blends containing one or both substances, beginning January 1, 2010.

Under the Clean Air Act, the SNAP program evaluates substitute chemicals and technologies for ozone-depleting substances (ODS). In December 2011, three hydrocarbon refrigerants were approved as acceptable substitutes, with use conditions, are propane, isobutane, and a chemical known as R-441A. These newly approved refrigerants could be used to replace ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-12 and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-22 in household refrigerators, freezers, combination refrigerator-freezers, and commercial stand-alone units. A subsequent action modified the use conditions required for use of isobutane, propane, and R-441A in new household refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerators and freezers. For the most recent approved substitutes, see SNAP Notices of Acceptability.

Recordkeeping and Reportingspray cans

EPA has promulgated a series of regulations to phase-out the production and import of class I ozone depleting substances (ODS) including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and class II ODS, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The regulations include reporting and recordkeeping requirements for producers, importers, and exporters of class I and class II substances.

For each type of controlled substance, reporting forms and guidance can be downloaded from EPA, including:

  • Class I Substances (Except Methyl Bromide)

  • Methyl Bromide

  • Class II Substances

All reporting forms should be signed and submitted to EPA either by mail or fax or using EPA's electronic reporting system, which is an alternative to the existing paper based reporting system for Ozone Depleting Substance (ODS) data.

There are no recordkeeping and reporting requirements for pre-charged appliances or components containing ODS. Some recordkeeping and reporting requirements DO EXIST for appliances and components containing HFCs.

Helpful FAQs & Links for Importers/Exporters

Equipment Manufacturers, Importers, and Exporters FAQ. As the United States continues to phaseout HCFCs, equipment manufacturers, importers, and exporters will need to adapt to the changing market demand for equipment. EPA provides the following answers to frequently asked questions to help you better understand the phaseout and your responsibilities in implementing the regulations.

Chemical Manufacturers, Importers, and Exporters FAQ. The import, export, and production of HCFCs are managed by the allowance system, as first established through rulemaking on January 21, 2003. Chemical manufacturers, importers, and exporters are required to operate within this framework. EPA provides the following information to help those in the chemical industry understand their role in the phaseout of HCFCs in the United States.

Phasing Out HCFC Refrigerants To Protect The Ozone Layer. A consumer brochure covering what you need to know when servicing or replacing an air conditioner in your home.

List of Substitutes. Substitutes are reviewed on the basis of ozone depletion potential, global warming potential, toxicity, flammability, and exposure potential as described in the final SNAP rule (Significant New Alternatives Policy program).

History of the ODS Phaseout Program

Regulations regarding production and importing/exporting of ozone depleting substances are found in 40 CFR part 82. These rules, which include the phase-out of production and imports of specific substances, are based on Title VI of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol), an international agreement signed by 196 countries.

The Montreal Protocol and Title VI of the CAA outline specific measures and timetables for reducing production and import of chlorofluorocarbons and ODS. The Montreal Protocol does not prohibit the use of CFCs or other ozone-depleting chemicals, only the production or import. Stores of CFCs made before the production phase out may be used. The Protocol does allow CFC production for essential uses where no substitute is available, or for allowed exemptions.

Originally, the Montreal Protocol proposed to phase out the production of CFCs and several other ODSs by 1999. It was amended several times, moving back the phase out dates of CFCs and allowing more time for implementing substitutes. Today, all CFCs and Class I controlled substances have been completely phased out, with limited exemptions that allow for very small amounts of ODS to be produced or imported for essential and critical uses.

For more information, see The Ozone-Depleting Substances Phaseout: 2020-2030.

Additional Resources

The Phase-Out of Ozone Depleting Substances. EPA regulations issued under sections 601-607 of the Clean Air Act ended the production of several ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and provided for the trading of production and consumption allowances.

HCFC Phase-Out Schedule. All developed countries that are Parties to the Montreal Protocol are subject to a cap on their consumption of HCFCs.

Lists of ozone depleting substances. Under section 602 of the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to list in the Federal Register the (global warming potentials) GWPs for ozone-depleting substances. This page lists the Class I substances and links to a page with Class II substances.

Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Adjustments to the Allowance System for Controlling HCFC Production and Import, 2020-2029; and Other Updates. A Rule by the Environmental Protection Agency published on 03/17/2020.

Ozone Layer Protection Milestones of the Clean Air Act. A look back at thirty years since Congress amended the Clean Air Act (CAA) to add Title VI: Stratospheric Ozone Protection.