• SkillCat Team

Clean Air Act

Updated: 7 days ago

EPA 608 Core Chapter 4 (Take full course for free)


In this module, we will walk through the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the regulations that apply to us as HVAC technicians. Skip to quiz!


1. Purpose of the CAA


Did you know that the US experienced severe air pollution in the 1940s and 1950s?


One of the worst cases of air pollution took place in 1948 in Donora, PA.

A thick smog containing harmful air pollutants covered the streets of Donora. In a matter of days, nearly half of the town’s 14,000 residents developed respiratory and other health problems. Nearly 40 people died.


What happened in Donora was part of a pattern happening across the country. Air pollution affected both big cities and small industrial towns. It became clear that air pollution directly affected people’s health. As a response to this, Congress passed the Clean Air Act, making it a federal law.


2. CAA Regulations


The purpose of the Clean Air Act (CAA) is to establish standards for the nation’s air quality.


Over the years, Congress passed several amendments to the Clean Air Act to add protections to the environment and to people’s health. In 1990, Congress passed amendments that included Section 608.


Section 608 of the Clean Air Act includes specific provisions regarding ozone protection. For example, it requires that technicians pass this exam in order to handle and buy refrigerants affect the ozone layer.


We will talk more about the specifics of Section 608 in a later module.

This section of the Clean Air Act is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


The penalties for any violations of the Clean Air Act include:

- Civil fines of up to $44,539 per day per violation (as of 2017)

- Criminal prosecution in US Federal Court (5 years, or double if it’s a second offense)

- Confiscation of violating substances (refrigerants)

- Loss of certification to handle refrigerants


In addition to the Clean Air Act, which is a federal law, many state and local governments impose additional restrictions.


These regulations may be equally or more stringent than those of the Clean Air Act. So in order to operate as a technician, you also need to be up to date on state and local laws.


3. SNAP (Significant New Alternatives Policy) Program


In a separate section of the Clean Air Act, the EPA also established SNAP, which stands for Significant New Alternatives Policy. The SNAP program was established to evaluate alternative refrigerants that are lower risk for humans and the environment.

SNAP is not just a list of substitute refrigerants. It is an ongoing program that changes recommendations as the EPA evaluates new information on how refrigerants affect the environment.


As technicians, it is your responsibility to keep up with current EPA guidelines.




4. Conclusion


The Clean Air Act is a key piece of legislation in American history. Its main purpose is to control pollution that was increasingly putting lives at risk.


As HVAC technicians, this matters to us because the refrigerants we used in older systems depleted the ozone layer. Regulation of these refrigerants falls under the Clean Air Act.


Question #1: Section 608 of the Clean Air Act is:

  1. A set of federal guidelines on limiting air pollutants

  2. Federal law

  3. State law

  4. A global treaty

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Section 608 of the Clean Air Act is a federal law.


Question #2: What is the purpose of Section 608? (Choose all that apply)

  1. To protect the ozone layer

  2. To regulate use of chemicals that deplete ozone

  3. To raise money through fines

  4. Economic reasons

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The main provisions of Section 608 are to protect the ozone layer by regulating chemicals that destroy it.


Question #3: What is the fine for violating the Clean Air Act (as of 2017)?

  1. They will lose their certification but will not be charged a fine

  2. $608 per day per violation

  3. $2000 per day per violation

  4. $44,539 per day per violation

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The fine for violating the Clean Air is up to $44,539 per day per violation


Question #4: What penalties can technicians face if they violate the Clean Air Act? (Choose all that apply)

  1. They may lose their Section 608 certification

  2. They may face federal charges

  3. They may have to do community service

  4. They may be fined

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All of these, except for 3, are penalties for violation of the Clean Air Act.


Question #5: State and local regulations _______ (Select all that are true)

  1. Have to be followed in addition to federal CAA regulations

  2. Have to be followed instead of federal CAA regulations

  3. May be stricter than federal CAA regulations

  4. Are a suggestion

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Both federal and local regulations must be followed. Local and state regulations may be stricter. It is the technician’s responsibility to keep up with the changes in legislation.


Question #6: What does SNAP stand for?

  1. Significant New Alternatives Policy

  2. Science New Alliances Policy

  3. Science Neutral Alliances Policy

  4. None of these

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SNAP stands for Significant New Alternatives Policy.


Question #7: What is the purpose of SNAP? (Select all that are true)

  1. To evaluate alternative refrigerants

  2. To further the goals of the CAA

  3. To consider effects of substitute refrigerants on humans

  4. To consider effects of substitute refrigerants on the environment

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All of these are true.

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