Ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs


Environmental regulation that provides an improved framework for managing halocarbons

April 16, 2020 marked the adoption of the Regulation Amending the Regulation respecting halocarbonsThis hyperlink will open in a new window. . The reinforced regulation aims to reduce the release of halocarbons into the air in order to protect the ozone layer and minimize the growth of the greenhouse effect.

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What are halocarbons?

Halocarbons are man-made synthetic halogenated compounds not found in nature. They include the following ozone-depleting substances:

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Bromofluorocarbons, also called halons
  • Methyl chloroform (1,1,1-trichloroethane)
  • Tetrachlolromethane (CCl4)
  • Methyl bromide (CH3Br)

They also include the following replacement products:

  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
  • Hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs)
  • Hydrochlorofluoroolefins (HCFOs)

The environmental issues at stake

Halocarbons mainly contribute to depletion of the ozone layer and climate change.

Ozone-depleting products are relatively stable, enabling them to migrate up to the stratosphere. The chlorine and bromine they contain react photochemically with stratospheric ozone and compromise the latter’s regeneration. Ozone-depleting products are among the highest in their capacity to retain heat–thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main greenhouse gas (GHG). In addition, ozone-depleting products have very long life spans. Emitting them amplifies the natural greenhouse effect and, as such, they are a major source of climate change. As an example, the emission of one tonne of ozone-depleting products across the world could equate (depending on their type) to 1,000 tonnes or more of CO2. Ozone-depleting products therefore greatly affect atmospheric temperature, the rain cycle in some areas of the planet, as well as ocean currents. In particular, they impair crop growth.

Replacements for ozone-depleting products like HFCs and PFCs have no effect on the ozone layer. However, they are greenhouse gases and some have a very high potential for global warming. This is why both are targeted in the Kyoto Protocol. The following table illustrates the ozone-depleting and global warming potentials of the most common halocarbons in use. The Regulation includes a non-exhaustive list.

Ozone-depleting and global warming potential of the principal halocarbons

Product family Product name Ozone-depleting
Global warming
CFCs R-12 1 10,900
R-11 1 4,750
R-115 0.6 7,370
Halons R-12B1 3 1,890
R-13B1 10 7,140
HCFCs R-123 0.02 77
R-124 0.022 609
R-142b 0.065 2,310
R-22 0.055 1,810
HFCs R-125 0 3,500
R-134a 0 1,430
R-143a 0 4,470
R-152a 0 124
R-227ea 0 3,220
R-23 0 14,800
R-245fa 0 1,030
R-32 0 675
HFOs R-1234yf 0 4
PFCs R-116 0 12,200
R-14 0 7,390
R-218 0 8,830
R-318c 0 10,300

(1) Compared to CFC-11, whose potential is defined as 1
(2) Compared to CO2, whose potential is defined as 1

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Where are halocarbons used?

Halocarbons are mainly used in the following sectors:

  • Refrigeration and air conditioning
  • Plastic foam manufacturing
  • Fire protection
  • Solvent manufacturing
  • Aerosol manufacturing

The measures set out in the Regulation respecting halocarbons mainly target the first three of the above sectors.

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The principal halocarbon regulatory framework measures

Taken together, the provisions of the Regulation respecting halocarbons enable improved halocarbon management in Québec. Specifically, the Regulation:

  • Oversees all ozone-depleting substances targeted by the Montréal Protocol and their replacement products, i.e. hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), hydrochlorofluoroolefins (HCFOs) and hydrofluoroolefins (HFO)
  • Bans all use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons throughout Québec
  • Prohibits the installation of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment that use hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Progressively prohibits installing refrigeration equipment that uses any halocarbon with elevated global warming potential
  • Makes mandatory the recovery or confinement of all halocarbons in refrigeration and air conditioning installations, as well as in fire extinction systems (both fixed or portable) during repairs
  • Compels wholesalers and distributors to accept used halocarbons brought to their sales locations by clients unable to process or reuse recovered substances
  • Requires gaseous refrigerants to be sold in rechargeable pressurized containers
  • Makes it mandatory for all users of halocarbons to be environmentally qualified
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