Ozone Layer Protection Milestones of the Clean Air Act
2020 is a milestone year for ozone layer protection in the United States. In the thirty years since Congress amended the Clean Air Act (CAA) to add Title VI: Stratospheric Ozone Protection, EPA has worked with many partners to develop and implement flexible, innovative, and effective approaches to phase out ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and heal the ozone layer. By restoring the ozone layer, we reduce the risks of skin cancer and cataracts.
Ozone-depleting substances have been used in many household, industrial, and military applications. In response to significant concern for our ozone layer, through the Montreal Protocol and CAA Title VI, the United States has been substituting ODS with safer alternatives. At the same time, global demand for refrigeration and cooling technologies continues to expand. Most transitions to safer alternatives have been seamless for consumers who use these products in their daily lives.
Today, we see signs that the ozone layer is healing. Full implementation of the Montreal Protocol is expected to prevent 443 million cases of skin cancer and 63 million cases of cataracts in the United States alone. This remarkable success is due to the important and cooperative achievements that continue to be made by people, programs, and organizations working together to protect the Earth’s ozone layer.
On January 1, 2020, the United States ended production and import of HCFC-22, a common refrigerant used in many applications including residential air-conditioning (AC) systems. However, HCFC-22 may continue to be used to service existing systems for as long as necessary. HCFC-22 that is recovered and reclaimed, along with HCFC-22 produced prior to 2020, will help meet the needs of owners of existing HCFC-22 systems.
Learn more about residential air conditioning and the phaseout of HCFC-22 and explore frequently asked questions about purchasing, servicing, or disposing of home air conditioners or other equipment that could contain ODS.