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Nearly 200 countries have signed an agreement to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - the hydrogen, carbon, fluorine-based compound that is commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

The goal is to limit the rise in global warming by less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century. HFCs have greater heat-trapping characteristics and are considered an ideal refrigerant choice given their efficiency, low toxicity and flammability. By 2024, HFCs will be fully prohibited in retail food refrigeration and in air conditioning systems in the U.S.; other countries will follow a similar discontinuance timeline. The challenge is that there is no easy way to go about replacing these systems with an ideal combination of efficiency, low toxicity, and flammability. Until this ideal solution is found, one or more of these characteristics will have to be sacrificed. As is often the case with new technologies, even with the most code compliant installations, unintended fires can occur. Emergency responders and others need to be trained and educated on the properties and dangers associated with flammable refrigerants.

 

 

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