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Handle Air Conditioners Carefully to Keep Refrigerants Intact

Release Date: 02/11/2006
Contact Information: Cynthia Fanning (EPA) at 504-731-8680 [], or Darin Mann (DEQ) at 225-219-0860 []

(Metairie, Louisiana - Feb. 11, 2006) Environmental responders are asking southern Louisiana residents who are remodeling flood-damaged homes or clearing them of debris to be careful with appliances that contain refrigerant, especially central air conditioning units. If damaged, air conditioners, freezers and refrigerators can release Freon into the air, which harms the stratospheric ozone layer and can increase appliance replacement costs.

While refrigerators and freezers may contain several ounces of refrigerant each, air conditioners usually contain pounds of it. Responders ask homeowners to be careful when moving flood-damaged refrigerators and freezers to the curb. They also advise homeowners to use qualified contractors to remove or repair air conditioners to ensure refrigerant is not released into the environment. Many flood-damaged air conditioning units can be refurbished and their refrigerant re-used by a qualified contractor, reducing the cost of repair.

White goods management crews are retrieving as much Freon as possible from refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners collected from curbsides before these appliances are crushed for recycling. To date, responders have removed Freon from 266,641 of the 298,398 white goods collected. White goods also include washers, dryers, and other appliances that do not contain refrigerant.

The environmental responders include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, who are working together in a Unified Command to address hazardous materials under a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A public service announcement about refrigerants is available as an MP3 file for radio stations to download at (scroll down to "Available Audio Files" and look in the lower right corner of the chart for "Handling Refrigerants").

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