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NEW REPORT ON HFO/TFA ADDS LITTLE TO THE ALREADY DETAILED UNDERSTANDING OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH EFFECTS

31 March 2021

The “Report and statement of the downsides of HFO refrigerant usage --Impact of fluorochemical refrigerants and their degradation products on the environment and health” by Refolution Industriekälte GmbH [1] compiles a wide range of publicly available information and does acknowledge that the environmental effects of TFA are considered to be negligible over the next few decades. This EFCTC response, available here, does not comment on every aspect of the report but highlights some statements and conclusions that are potentially misleading without additional explanation.

A detailed summary [2] of the effects of TFA has recently been published in 2021 by the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel (EEAP) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which provides the latest scientific update on a wide range of issues since their most recent comprehensive assessment (2018). It includes a comprehensive summary for Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) and points out that most PFAS have different properties from TFA. Some HFCs and HFOs breakdown in the atmosphere to produce TFA. The key points from this summary are in the March 2021 EFCTC newsletter.

HFOs have been subjected to a robust and extensive suite of studies to evaluate their overall safety to humans and the environment. Rigorous risk assessments using this data have been conducted which support their safe use in all intended applications.

Contrary to the Refolution Report conclusions, the HFOs have an important role in providing a good balance of safety and performance properties not available with other refrigerants. HFOs have ultra-low GWPs similar to CO2 and hydrocarbons and will enable net -zero refrigeration and air-conditioning whilst maintaining safety and performance.

References
[1] Report and statement of the downsides of HFO refrigerant usage -Impact of fluorochemical refrigerants and their degradation products on the environment and health - Refolution Industriekälte GmbH -Published on: 22/02/2021
[2] Neale, R. E., Barnes, P. W., Robson, T. M., Neale, P. J., Williamson, C. E., Zepp, R. G., et al. (2021). Environmental effects of stratospheric ozone depletion, UV radiation, and interactions with climate change: UNEP Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, Update 2020. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1007/s43630-020-00001-x. See sections 7.8 to 7.11 for Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA).

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