EPA Issues First Safe Substitutes List for CFCs and Other Ozone Depleters

[EPA press release - February 16, 1994]

EPA today announced its first list of acceptable and unacceptable substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other stratospheric ozone depleters, as well as a process for continual review of new substitutes as they are developed.

The Agency's initial list of acceptable substitutes offers industry a broad menu of alternatives that will help expedite the market's transition away from ozone-depleting compounds.

"Americans want the assurance that the products they use and buy will not deplete the ozone layer -- and today's rule takes us closer to reaching that goal," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "By setting these standards, we reinforce the Clinton Administration's commitment to protecting the health and environment of Americans and the world."

Today's final rule sets up the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP), a program in which EPA will evaluate applications for use of substitute chemicals and technology to replace ozone depleters in specific uses.

The program will assess alternative use in eight major industrial categories: refrigeration and air conditioning, solvents, foam blowing, fire and explosion suppression, sterilants, aerosols, adhesives, coatings, inks and tobacco treatment. EPA believes these categories account for over 90 percent of current U.S. use of ozone-depleting compounds.

The manufacturer or importer must provide EPA notification 90 days before introducing the substitute into interstate commerce. In addition, the company must provide EPA with all unpublished health and safety studies on the subject. This requirement applies to chemical manufacturers, but may also include formulators or end-users.

During the 90-day period, the Agency will evaluate company studies and other information and decide whether the substitute is either acceptable or unacceptable for a specific use, based on whether the substances may have adverse effects on human health or the environment. Some of the criteria EPA will consider in the risk screening include flammability, chemical toxicity, global warming potential and exposure of workers, consumers, the general population and aquatic life.

If EPA places a substance on the unacceptable list, it becomes unlawful to use it as a substitute for an ozone-depleter.

EPA will publish lists of acceptable and unacceptable substitutes in the Federal Register, continually updating the lists as evaluations are completed.

Any person can petition EPA at any time to add or remove a substance from either the acceptable or unacceptable list. EPA can also change the list on its own without petitions if new information comes to light.

The SNAP rule will not apply to substitutes used in volumes of less than 10,000 pounds per year within the eight major industrial categories or to certain small industrial categories.

In addition to laying out EPA's long-term plan for evaluating ozone depleter substitutes, today's rule also includes EPA's first list of acceptable and unacceptable substitutes.

To date, EPA has found fewer than a dozen substitutes to be unacceptable for use. Among the substitutes on the unacceptable list is a "drop-in" auto air conditioner refrigerant called "OZ-12" (formally listed by EPA under the name "Hydrocarbon Blend A") that is being marketed as an alternative to CFC-12 (popularly known by its DuPont trade name of freon). Although EPA has concerns about the flammability of OZ-12, it is currently on the unacceptable list because the company has not provided the Agency with sufficient information to make a satisfactory decision. Once the company provides EPA with sufficient information, the Agency will consider today's decision.

On Dec. 10, 1993, EPA issued a final rule phasing out the domestic production and importing of seven stratospheric ozone depleters: halons by Jan. 1, 1994; CFCs, carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform and hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs) by Jan. 1, 1996; and methyl bromide by Jan. 1, 2001. The rule also requires the phaseout of some forms of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 2002, with a complete phaseout of all forms by 2030. Today's safe substitute rule supports the phaseout regulation by identifying substitutes for these chemicals. In addition, it minimizes the burden of another EPA final regulation issued in February 1993 that requires consumer warning labels on domestically-produced and imported products containing or manufactured with CFCs and other ozone depleters. Today's rule would provide industry with options for manufacturing processes which would do away with the use of substances requiring labels.

EPA emphasizes that the phaseout deadlines affect only domestic production and importing of the ozone-depleting chemicals. These substances can continue to be used after the deadlines if companies can find sources of supply through recycling or existing inventories.