Program recycles freon-containing appliances for free

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Allegheny County residents once again can get their old, broken and unwanted appliances containing freon gas -- including refrigerators, dehumidifiers, freezers, air conditioners and water coolers -- picked up curbside and recycled for free.

The Allegheny County Health Department program, funded by a $150,000 grant from the county's Clean Air Fund, is under way and hopes to recycle at least 3,750 appliances this year. It will continue until the money runs out.

The county ran similar programs in 2006 when it collected 1,000 freon-containing appliances and 2007 when 2,773 were picked up, but did no pickups last year.

"This was very popular the first two years. That's why more money was committed this year," said Guillermo Cole, a health department spokesman. "There might be enough to take care of the backlog from 2008."

The health department began funding pickups of freon-containing appliances to facilitate their disposal and recycling. Freon is a combination of chlorofluorocarbons, which when released can deplete the ozone in the upper atmosphere that protects Earth from harmful radiation.

Most municipalities won't pick up appliances that once contained the coolant unless they've been tagged by a plumber to certify that the refrigerant has been drained and disposed of according to Clean Air Act regulations, a process that can cost the appliance owner $50 or more. Pittsburgh trash haulers haven't picked up refrigerators and other freon-containing appliances, drained or not, since 1991.

To do this year's pickups, the health department program has contracted with Appliance Warehouse, which can make pickups countywide, and Parkway Heating & Air Conditioning in 24 municipalities in the southern and western parts of the county. Those municipalities include Bridgeville, Carnegie, Collier, Coraopolis, Crafton, Crescent, Findlay, Green Tree, Heidelberg, Ingram, Kennedy, McDonald, McKees Rocks, Moon, Neville, North Fayette, Oakdale, Pennsbury Village, Robinson, Rosslyn Farms, Scott, South Fayette, Stowe and Thornburg.

Fred Landay, Appliance Warehouse owner, said the company also will collect appliances that do not contain freon, including stoves, washers and dryers, for free, but only if they are put on the curb with a freon-containing appliance.

Only household appliances, not industrial or commercial appliances, are eligible. Allegheny County residents can register for the appliance pickup service by calling Appliance Warehouse at 1-888-463-7366 or Parkway Heating & Air Conditioning at 412-279-6001.

Don Hopey can be reached at or 412-263-1983.


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