Yes, you will need to be EPA 608 certified in order to handle or purchase R-22 Refrigerant/Refrigerant. R-22 is an HCFC refrigerant and contains Chlorine. In the 1970s it was found that when Chlorine is released into the atmosphere it inadvertently causes damage to the O-Zone layer.
CFC and HCFC refrigerants were banned in the United States and across the world by the Montreal Protocol due to the Chlorine that they contained. Today you can still purchase R-22 but you will have to be certified with the EPA. If you purchase or handle R-22 without certification from the EPA or without an intent to resale the product you will be in violation of the Federal Clean Air Act.
The certification ensures that only qualified personnel are handling the R-22 refrigerant. These technicians will not accidentally vent the R-22 into the atmosphere. If a laymen was working with R-22 they may accidentally vent the Refrigerant into the environment and damage the O-Zone layer.