6 August 2010
Methyl chloride makes an illegal comeback in Korea
METHYL chloride, the toxic and flammable chemical once used as a refrigerant until superseded by fluorocarbons in 1929, has made a reappearance in car air conditioning systems in Korea.
According to the Joong Ang Daily, Korean police believe the dangerous refrigerant mixed with other flammable refrigerants and imported from China is being used in about 60,000 cars in Korea. They have advised car owners who had their refrigerant replaced in garages in Seoul, Gyeonggi, Incheon and Busan between April and June to get their cars checked as soon as possible.
Police in Seoul applied for an arrest warrant for the head of an importing company who alledgedly sold the gas to 11 dealers. 50 tons were imported from China, police have confiscated 13 tons of the illegal refrigerant, but 28 tons are still missing. The refrigerant was 40 to 60 percent cheaper than legitimate brands, authorities believe.
The chemicals found in the faulty refrigerant can lead to the corrosion of iron and aluminum. They can also weaken rubber materials, which can result in leaks.
Highly toxic and flammable, methyl chloride can corrode iron and aluminum and weaken rubber materials, resulting in leaks. Several fatal accidents occurred in the 1920s when methyl chloride leaked out of refrigerators and was a constant, potentially deadly, hazard for refrigeration engineers in the early part of the 20th century.