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    High GWP Fire Suppressants Considered for EPA SNAP Status Change

    September 24, 2015

    • High global warming potential (GWP) substances used in fire suppression, like HFC-23, have made the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Stakeholders Meeting agenda and are now being considered for a listing status change. 

      Following the U.S. EPA’s SNAP final ruling on July 2 to change the listing status of certain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and HFC-blends for various uses, the U.S. EPA continues to take action (PDF, 528.21 KB) consistent with the President’s Climate Action Plan (PDF, 310.94 KB) and is moving onto the next phase of status changes. For the first time, high GWP substances used in the fire suppression sector made the EPA’s list for SNAP status change consideration.  High GWP legacy fire extinguishing agents, and those with narrow use, e.g. HFC-23, are of particular interest to EPA.

      In addressing the fire suppression sector, EPA has validated that no sector is too small to target for emission reduction.  In reality, however, meaningful emission reduction from the fire suppression sector will require the EPA to also consider other high GWP HFCs sold into fire suppression. The availability of more environmentally sustainable alternatives, like 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid, enable the EPA to look more broadly for emission reduction opportunities in the fire suppression sector.

      HFC emissions in fire suppression add up.

      Claims that HFC emissions from the fire sector are small will not be a compelling reason for the EPA to not restrict HFCs in fire suppression. Because frankly, HFC emissions in fire suppression definitely add up. For example, according to the U.S. EPA's GHG equivalencies calculator, 900 pounds of HFC-227ea (an HFC commonly used in fire suppression) translates to approximately 1,300 metric tons of CO₂ equivalence – the annual GHG emissions of approximately 274 passenger vehicles driven for a year, 7 railcars full of coal, or consumption of 3000 barrels of oil.

      The numbers speak for themselves – HFCs used in fire suppression are not sustainable. Customers should give careful consideration to these U.S. EPA actions to help ensure agent selection that will be sustainable over the life of the system.

      Take a look at the environmental impact (PDF, 199.62 KB) of high GWP HFCs and how they compare to the smart, sustainable solution – Novec 1230 Fluid.

      More to come…

      3M and Novec are trademarks of 3M Company.

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