Update on Global Automotive Refrigerant Contamination
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Update on Global Automotive Refrigerant Contamination

Last month, MACS and Neutronics issued a warning advising that all industries using R-134a refrigerant immediately test all cylinders thought to be virgin R-134a (including new 30 pound cylinders) due to reports of widespread contamination. Following that report, Ed Sunkin, editor of Underhood Service, contacted manufacturers and suppliers of automotive refrigerant to comment on this issue.

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Last month, MACS and Neutronics, a provider of gas analysis and gas handling technologies, issued a warning advising that all industries using R-134a refrigerant immediately test all cylinders thought to be virgin R-134a (including new 30 pound cylinders) due to reports of widespread contamination.

Following that report, Ed Sunkin, editor of Underhood Service, contacted manufacturers and suppliers of automotive refrigerant to comment on this issue.

Peter Dalpe, a spokesman Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies, said technicians using Genetron refrigerants can be reassured Honeywell takes important steps to keep its product contamination-free.

“Honeywell manufactures R-134a to strict specification with quality controls, so we are confident Honeywell Genetron refrigerants are free from such contamination,” Dalpe said. “We are encouraging automotive technicians to source their R-134a directly from authorized distributors of Genetron refrigerants to ensure they are not receiving counterfeit products, which could be contaminated with R-40. Customers should also be wary of product being sold well below the current market price, as this is a sign it could be counterfeit.”

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Dalpe said Honeywell is not aware of any counterfeit Genetron product being sold in North America. “We have, however, become aware of counterfeit R-134a being sold under the Honeywell Genetron brand name in the Middle East and have expanded an ongoing campaign to detect counterfeit refrigerants. These include new security measures to detect counterfeits.”

Janet Smith, DuPont public affairs spokesperson, said counterfeit refrigerant products, produced by unscrupulous suppliers to resemble leading brands of refrigerant, are a significant and growing concern in the industry.

“Counterfeit refrigerants pose a global threat, for both stationary and mobile applications, because they may be unsafe for use and pose quality and performance issues for users,” Smith said. “Unlike genuine registered products that are tested for their impact on health and the environment, counterfeit refrigerants can contain unknown or toxic ingredients. These can be harmful to end-users and have the potential for negative impact to equipment and/or the environment.”

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Smith also advised shop owners and technicians to buy refrigerant from reputable, known suppliers as a best defense against the threat of counterfeit refrigerants.

“Also, customers should check the package label for the inclusion of AHRI 700 purity standard statement that is always present on genuine DuPont automotive refrigerant products,” she said. “The AHRI 700 Refrigerant Specification, which is an industry quality standard for refrigerants that requires that products meet a purity measure of 99.5 percent.”

Smith said DuPont has resources to assist customers in verifying and authenticating its refrigeration products through the use of product identification methods and technologies. In addition, for in-field testing, DuPont believes there is merit in using one of the standard industry methods to verify that the refrigerant product is R-134a and is within specification.

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To contact DuPont about the authenticity of DuPont-brand refrigerants, customers in the United States can call 1-800-235-7882. Customers with questions or who need additional information, also can contact their DuPont sales representative.

The Underhood Service staff, who will be attending the Mobile Air Conditioning Society Worldwide (MACS) trade show and convention taking place this month in Las Vegas, will provide more information on this topic as it becomes available.

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