Confusion has taken hold in the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) sector as products containing R134a refrigerant are being sold by accessory shops and over the internet, without the need for the buyer to be certified.
R134a is a highly polluting gas and so it’s sale has been restricted in the UK to professionals that hold a competency qualification known as F-Gas. Part of the training includes the knowledge that it is a criminal offence to top-up a system that is known to be leaking.
However, a number of top-up aerosol products aimed at DIY and very small workshops remain on the market. All of these contain R134a and are sold under various names including AC Pro Cold, EZ Chill and Auto Freeze. Retailers do not need to take any details of the person who it buying it, or the vehicle they are working on, although in each case a £10 refundable deposit is taken for the container.
Despite this appearing to be a violation of the December 2014 F-Gas Record Keeping and Qualification law, documents seen by CAT suggest that Defra and the Environment Agency are well aware of the situation. In the document, a government spokesman states: “When the Regulation was first published, the Environment Agency (England) and Defra followed the advice of the European Commission that suppliers of gas for servicing MAC were required to obtain evidence of certification when selling gas. As the only qualification within the MAC sector related to recovery, this is what was requested by suppliers”.
The suggestion that F-Gas regulations only apply to recovery has provoked fury from professionals who have spent considerable time and money on compliance. Jim McClean, MD of CompressorTech said: “This makes a complete mockery, of the EU December 2014, F-gas ruling for selling mobile air conditioning gas such as R134a”.
“Once every workshop in the UK hears about this exception ruling, they will simply use it when requested to provide F-gas qualification criteria to every motor factor in the UK selling R134a refrigerant.”