Refrigerants and foam-blowing agents have a long history of being criticized for their environmental impact. In Europe, mostly natural refrigerants and foam-blowing agents (mainly cyclopentante and isobutane) are nowadays used in household refrigerating appliances. In other applications, (e.g. stationary or mobile air conditioning, heat pumps in other household appliances) or other parts of the world, however, hydrofluorocarbons (like R134a) with much higher global warming potential are still being used. Recently, a new generation of partly fluorinated (and partly chlorinated) hydrocarbons (so called HFOs) has been introduced and marketed by manufacturers of refrigerants and foam-blowing agents.
This fact sheet aims at providing a short overview of the historical development of refrigerants and foam-blowing agents, the claimed advantages and possible disadvantages / risks of HFOs, and concludes with some recommendations with regard to a possible regulation of household refrigerating appliances.