We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding halon. If there’s a question you have that is not listed below, please don’t hesitate to contact us. One of our experienced technicians will be sure to answer it promptly.
Q: What is halon management and banking?
A: Halon 1301 and Halon 1211 are fire suppression gases that have been determined by scientists to cause destruction of the global ozone layer. In fact, halons are the most destructive of all the ozone depleting gases. The ozone layer plays a crucial role in the screening of the sun’s ultraviolet rays and is critical to man’s well-being. An international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol – approved in 1987 and signed by 167 countries – established the worldwide phase-out of the production and use of halons, along with other ozone depleting chemicals. Some countries have taken more specific steps on their own as a result of the Montreal Protocol to ban or restrict the use of halons. Nevertheless, some industries will continue to use halons until replacements are available to suit their particular fire suppression requirements. Since halons are no longer produced, companies within these industries must be provided with reclaimed halons that have been removed from service and recycled. Halon management and banking is the responsible collecting, cleaning and storing of halons for eventual resale to companies who will require halons in the future.
Q: Why is halon management and banking important?
A: In the near future, availability (or lack thereof) of halons (especially Halon 1301) could make it difficult to recharge currently installed fire protections systems. The lack of availability could leave important facilities unprotected from the threat of fire until a new fire protection system of another type can be installed. As recycled halons are now the only source of supply, the cost of halon is rising every day. A halon management program is a responsible way to help avoid unnecessary venting of halons to the atmosphere and to ensure continuing availability.
Q: What are recycled halons?
A: Recycled halons are halon gases that have been removed (or decommissioned) from service and then put through a process of filtration, distillation and separation in order to return them to their original factory specifications. These specifications are set forth in ISO 7201 or ASTM D5632 (Type I or Type II).
Q: Can I still purchase halon?
A: Halon 1301 is no longer produced in the United States, but it is still readily available to purchase in recycled format. It is still permissible to recharge systems with Halon 1301, and there have been no restrictions placed on that. There is also no requirement in the United States forcing system owners to remove a Halon 1301 system from service.
In the near future, availability (or lack thereof) of halons (especially Halon 1301) could make it difficult to recharge currently installed fire protections systems. The lack of availability could leave important facilities unprotected from the threat of fire until a new fire protection system of another type can be installed. As recycled halons are now the only source of supply, the cost of halon is rising every day.
Q: How do I know that the halon I am buying meets specifications?
A: As a buyer of halon, you have the right to require a certification prepared by an independent laboratory showing that the halon you are purchasing has been recycled to the proper ASTM or Military specification – Wesco can provide you with a laboratory report detailing the purity of the halon you purchase. As a rule of thumb, always look for recycling companies who have pledged to follow the Halon Recycling Corporation’s Code of Practice for Halon Reclaimers.
Q: What is the value of Halon 1301 and Halon 1211?
A: Like most commodities, Halon 1301 and Halon 1211 fluctuate in price depending on the forces of supply and demand. If you have halon for sale and, assuming that it has not been contaminated and can be recycled back to its original condition (either ISO or ASTM), your halon does have value and will for some time into the future. The exact price will depend on several factors, including current market conditions, the amount of halon you have for sale, the number of cylinders in which the halon is stored and your distance from the recycler. If you are looking to purchase halon, the price you pay will usually depend on the amount you wish to purchase. You can call Wesco for current prices!
Q: Is international trade in halons permitted?
A: Yes. The Montreal Protocol allows for trade among all countries in recycled Halons.
Q: What is the legal status of halon worldwide?
A: It depends on the country. While international agencies and working groups have tried to codify laws and regulations covering the use of halons, most countries have established their own laws. Some countries have banned the use of halons altogether. Other countries and regional associations have established aggressive “phase out” periods that will result in the banning of halon in the next few years. In the U.S., there are no laws or regulations against the continued use of halons. However, new purchases must be for “recycled” halon only. If you have a question about a particular country or region, you can call us, and we can provide you with the specific information.
Q: Are there any laws covering the emissions of Halons?
A: Yes. Once again, these laws vary country by country. In March of 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed strict regulations covering the handling and disposal of halon and halon-containing equipment (63 FR 11084). Among other provisions, the regulation establishes rules for the training of handling and/or disposing of halons that come from halon-containing equipment during testing, maintenance and other activities. The U.S. EPA has recently published “Guidance for the EPA Halon Emission Reduction Rule” which explains how to comply with the rule. Call Wesco for a free copy of this document, or jump to “Industry Ads and Reference Materials” (insert link) on our webpage.
Q: How much longer will halons be available?
A: The most recent studies, prepared by an international group working for the United Nations, project there to be an adequate supply of recycled halons to meet demand for the next 40 years.
Q: What is meant by the term “critical user?”
A: The term “critical user” identifies priority users of recycled halons. A user is considered “critical” when a need exists to protect against fire or explosion risks in areas that would result in a serious threat to essential services or pose an unacceptable threat to life, the environment or national security. Typical critical users are aerospace, certain petrochemical production processing, certain marine applications and national defense.
Q: What is the HRC Code of Practice for Halon Reclaimers?
A: It is a code of conduct that establishes a “good practices” standard to provide assurances to the public that HRC Enrolled Sellers engaged in the business of halon recycling and recovery operate in a manner that promotes safe and environmentally responsible halon reclamation. Call Wesco for a free copy of this document, or jump to “Industry Guidelines” to read this document online.
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