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Honeywell highlights dangers of counterfeit refrigerants in Saudi Arabia

A new survey released by Honeywell (NYSE: HON) found that occupants of Saudi Arabia are concerned about potentially dangerous counterfeit refrigerants, which are increasingly found in the Middle East.

Counterfeit refrigerants are a dangerous, persistent problem around the world. After several containers carrying counterfeit refrigerants exploded in 2012, the United Nations Environment Programme said: that “Counterfeit refrigerants “appear to be a global issue of concern and a wider range of stakeholders are possibly at risk.”

Honeywell conducted the survey as part of its ongoing campaign to fight counterfeiting, and found that 9 in 10 respondents believe there are counterfeit refrigerants fraudulently labeled as brand-name, authentic refrigerants sold in Saudi Arabia. In addition, 98 per cent of respondents said they would prefer brand-name refrigerants sold by authorized dealers if it would limit the risks posed by counterfeits, which can often be flammable, toxic and damaging to air conditioning and refrigeration systems.

Incidents around the world point to a significant danger from counterfeit refrigerants. In 2011, three refrigerated containers containing a counterfeit refrigerant exploded, killing three people. In 2012, an air conditioning unit in Brazil exploded due to a counterfeit refrigerant. Similar incidents in Greece, Germany, and Australia have also been reported.

Honeywell has fought the use of counterfeits for more than 10 years, helping local governments identify and seize counterfeit products all over the world. During the last two years, local governments working with Honeywell have seized more than 200,000 counterfeit products.

“We would like to applaud the local law enforcement and other government authorities in Saudi Arabia for taking the issue of counterfeiting seriously and cooperating with the industry to protect safety of citizens,” said Norm Gilsdorf, president, Honeywell Middle East, Russia and Central Asia. “Their efforts have resulted in seizures of counterfeit refrigerants in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere around the world. We continue to introduce technology solutions to help combat this problem,” Gilsdorf added.

Honeywell Fluorine Products is a world leader in the development and manufacture of refrigerants that are sold worldwide under the Genetron and Solstice brand names for a range of applications, including building and mobile air conditioning as well as refrigeration applications.

Ipsos, a survey specialist company, working on behalf of Honeywell, surveyed 400 people by telephone in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam who own and operate one or more refrigerators or air conditioners for their home, office or vehicle. The survey found that:
•90 per cent of those surveyed in Saudi Arabia believe counterfeit refrigerants fraudulently labeled as brand-name, authentic refrigerants are sold in their country
•98 per cent indicate they would prefer a brand-name refrigerant for their home, office, car or refrigerator if it would limit the risks posed by counterfeit refrigerants
•88 per cent believe that counterfeit refrigerants can cause equipment failure more serious and costly than genuine brand name products
•64 per cent believe that counterfeit refrigerants can be toxic, and 75 per cent believe they can be flammable.

In 2013, Honeywell announced that local law enforcement in Saudi Arabia seized nearly 3,500 containers of counterfeit refrigerant being fraudulently sold under the Honeywell Genetron brand name. The counterfeit product actually contained dangerous toxic and flammable substances. According to local authorities, the counterfeit refrigerant was marked as Honeywell’s Genetron 134a, a common refrigerant for automobile air conditioning, and shipped to Dammam Port, Saudi Arabia, from China.

Honeywell continues its efforts to build awareness among end customers on the risks of using counterfeit products. These include holding training seminars for contractors, distributors and customs officers to provide them with information about the dangers of non-genuine products to share with end customers.

All Honeywell refrigerants are subject to extensive quality and safety testing before they are sold. The safety and quality of Genetron and Solstice refrigerants can only be guaranteed when buying from Honeywell-authorized suppliers.