The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently identified online sales of a product marketed as “Cool Penguin F-12” for use in motor vehicle air conditioners (MVACs). While the product appears to be marketed as CFC-12, some of the cans contain a mixture of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), such as CFC-12, CFC-114, HCFC-142b, and HCFC-22, along with non-ozone depleting components, including HFC-134a and R-40. Different cans tested by the EPA contained varying amounts of some or all these substances. Under current Clean Air Act regulations, the import of cans containing any percent of the ODS listed above into the United States is illegal. In addition, no person may sell, distribute or offer for sale or distribution any regulated ODS that they know, or have reason to know, was imported illegally. No version of Cool Penguin F-12 has been submitted for evaluation as an alternative under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program; thus, Cool Penguin F-12 has not been listed as acceptable for use in MVACs.
If you use Cool Penguin F-12 in your MVAC system, it may pose a safety risk to you and your vehicle. In particular, R-40 (chloromethane) is toxic and has the potential to explode under certain conditions. Combinations of other constituents of Cool Penguin F-12 may pose additional safety risks, and due to the varying makeup of individual cans, each could affect your system differently and could even harm your system. The unpredictable makeup could also pose a problem during the refrigerant recovery process.
Whenever you purchase a refrigerant, make sure you know what it contains, whether it is approved by the EPA for use in MVACs, and whether using it will void your car’s warranty. If you see any refrigerants for sale that violate the Clean Air Act or other regulations, please report the products to the EPA at http://www.EPA.gov/tips.