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Automakers use PFAS in your car’s air conditioning.

Automakers use PFAS in your car’s air conditioning.

Sustainable cover made from recycled bottles, hats, fishing nets, etc. It seems to be the rule rather than the exception these days. In addition to consumption and CO2 emissions, recycling is one of the pillars on which car brands pin their corporate sustainability. But perhaps these manufacturers should also look at air conditioning.

According to research by consulting firm Dacre Carlyle, there’s an invisible harmful substance hiding in your air conditioner. Since 2018, new cars have no longer been allowed to use an air conditioning gas called R134a. The replacement is called R1234yf and is 335 times less harmful if it escapes. That’s good, but it also turns out the new gas isn’t as clean.

In fact, just like R134a, the new air conditioning gas falls into the category of polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS. These substances can damage the immune system and cause cancer. How dangerous the substance is depends on how much of it you ingest, how often you ingest it, and how long you ingest it. According to the Dutch government, this also varies from person to person. Whether you are sensitive to it or not, it would not be good for you to inhale the substance for hours.

We believe the European Union is interfering.

According to Ducker Carlisle, Volkswagen has already made the switch, but the switch will take a few years. The German brand will start using CO2 as a refrigerant sometime between 2025 and 2030. In this way, VW wants to move forward with a new EU regulation. A proposal is now in the European Chemicals Agency, but a decision is not expected this year. However, according to Ducker Carlisle, most car manufacturers believe that R1234yf will be banned.

The consultancy expects luxury car brands to switch from PFAS to CO2 in air conditioning over the next two to five years. Another option could be propane. This is already used in coaches. The downside of propane is that it poses a fire hazard and therefore needs to be well protected. So there’s a good chance brands will opt for CO2.

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