Are HVAC companies in the drug prevention business?

Will companies begin requiring new technicians to take sensitivity training to assist customers with their inhalant abuse issues?

Do you think it is possible that HVAC schools will have to include a course on the symptoms of drug abuse?

Exactly what are the industries positions and what is it’s role in the prevention of inhalant abuse

Inhalant Abuse

Air fresheners, refrigerant, markers, correction fluid, cooking spray, an old orange placed inside a sock with toothpaste on it. Yes! They are all everyday items now being used to get high in America. Over the counter substances are being purchased by adolescent and adult people to achieve a few minutes of euphoria. Unfortunately, the end result of this is brain damage, emotional disequilibrium, and an ever increasing crime statistic.

  • One out of every five 8th graders has tried an inhalant.

  • Inhalants are usually the first drug children use because they are readily available in the home.

  • Over 1400 different products may be “huffed.”

  • Parents don’t understand the problem.

Inhalants are addictive substances that are viewed as “gateway” drugs leading to more harmful and highly addictive substances. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that inhalant abuse is on the rise.

People who inhale chemicals can die immediately. It is called Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome. Huffing can produce choking, suffocation and a decrease in oxygen to the brain. In addition, breathing chemical inhalants can cause heart, kidney, and liver failure. The toxins inhaled overwhelm vital organs resulting in an immediate and permanent death.

Rules and Regulations

The International Mechanical Code (section 1101.10) and the International Residential Code (section M1411.6) are now requiring the use of locking caps. Section M1411.6 says, “Locking access port caps. Refrigerant circuit access ports located outdoors shall be fitted with locking-type tamper-resistant caps.” These caps are lockable and can only be accessed by a licensed HVAC professional who is equipped with a special tool. The caps may be color coded to allow for easy recognition of certain refrigerant lines.

Further, HVAC personnel must handle ozone-depleting chemicals and substances within certain guidelines. Chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons(HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons(HFCs) must be handled in precise ways. These chemicals that are said to deplete the ozone layer in our atmosphere can only be resold to certified reclaimers of these chemicals.

When 2018 comes around, the substances will only be sold to certified technicians. These technicians must pass a certification exam certifying their proficiency in handling substitute refrigerants and ozone depleting substances. They will be asked to keep precise records when disposing of appliances that have between 5 and 50 pounds of refrigerant. They must keep a copy of their certificate at their business location. They must evacuate ozone depleting substances to new levels when opening or disposing of appliances with certified equipment.

Section 608 Requirements: Stationary Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

  • REFRIGERANT RECOVERY AND RECYCLING EQUIPMENT Equipment must be certified by an EPA-approved testing organization to meet specific EPA requirements for refrigerant recovery efficiency.

  • REFRIGERANT LEAKS Industrial and commercial refrigeration equipment and comfort cooling equipment are subject to specific EPA requirements for leak repair.

  • SERVICE PRACTICE REQUIREMENTS Technicians must evacuate air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment to established vacuum levels during servicing and disposal

  • TECHNICIAN CERTIFICATION Technicians servicing air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment must meet EPA certification criteria by passing an EPA-approved examination

  • REFRIGERANT SALES RESTRICTIONS Sale of ODS refrigerants is restricted to certified technicians

  • MAJOR RECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS Service technicians, owners, and operators of large refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, refrigerant wholesalers, and EPA-certified refrigerant reclaimers are required to maintain records documenting dates, refrigerant charge amounts, and related information for equipment servicing and disposal

  • SAFE DISPOSAL REQUIREMENTS When refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment enters the waste stream, the final person in the disposal chain must remove (or make certain that their customers have removed) refrigerants prior to appliance disposal

  • RECLAMATION Before recovered refrigerant can change ownership, it must be reclaimed to virgin specifications by a reclaimer that meets EPA certification requirements

Professional Role

So, No. HVAC technicians are not expected nor does it fall within their job description to assist those who choose to inhale substances that can negatively impact their health and well being.

Instead, HVAC companies and technicians are expected to be in compliance with standards as set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency and other governing entities.

The EPA will enforce these regulations by performing inspections and responding to tips given to them by consumers. The organization has been empowered to assess fines of up to $37,500.00 per day for violations of Section 608.

It is hoped these regulations will decrease any negative impact chemicals used in HVAC may have on the ozone layer and hopefully play a role in decreasing access to “huffing” chemicals.