SACRAMENTO, CA --- In 2010, California's home-based mechanics will see changes to small containers of R-134a, a compound used to recharge automobile air-conditioning systems and a potent greenhouse gas. 

The state's new requirements, adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to comply with California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32), are expected to eliminate over 250,000 metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents in 2020. The gas in these small containers, R-134a, is 1,300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat from the sun in the atmosphere, according to CARB.

"This is an excellent example of how regulations can be crafted with full cooperation of the industry," said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. "As a result, do-it-yourselfers will continue to have an affordable product to recharge their car's air conditioners but with fewer emissions of potent greenhouse gases." 

The regulation, one of a series of measures under AB 32, has four major components:

  • Better container technology -- a self-sealing valve on all small containers of automotive refrigerant sold in California to prevent emissions of any product remaining in a used container
  • Improved instructions for use
  • A new industry-run container deposit and recycling program to ensure the recovery of refrigerant remaining in a used can
  • A manufacturer-developed education program so consumers can use the best techniques for recharging an air conditioner.  

Consumers of the do-it-yourself cans of automotive refrigerant should begin to see cans on the shelf that meet the new requirements as existing inventory is sold and restocked over the next few months. 

AB 32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2006 and calls on California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.