AEROSOL AND THE ENVIRONMENT > CFCS

Scientists Make an Important Discovery
In 1974, Nobel prize winner Dr. F. Sherwood Rowland and his colleague Dr. Mario Molina proposed a theory that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) damage the stratospheric ozone layer. At the time, CFCs were being used in refrigerators, air conditioners, industrial processes and as propellants for some aerosol products. The scientists were worried about the stratospheric ozone layer because it consists of a particularly active form of oxygen that filters out much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Scientists continue to warn that ozone depletion will allow rising levels of ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth’s surface, which may lead to a potential increase in skin cancer, cataracts and global warming.

American Aerosol Industry Reacts
As a result of Rowland and Molina’s discovery, American aerosol manufacturers took the lead in switching from CFC propellants to suitable alternatives. In fact, by 1978 when the U.S. EPA banned the use of CFC propellants, most of them had already voluntarily stopped using CFCs. An exception was made for some asthma inhalers, but they became CFC-free in 2008. This completed the phase out of all CFC propellants in consumer aerosol products produced and sold in the U.S. Other ozone-depleting substances that were used in some aerosol formulations for non-propellant purposes also have been phased out according to the legislative timetable.

Other Countries Take Action
Throughout the 1980s, several countries–including Canada, Mexico, Australia and several European nations–passed regulations banning CFC use in aerosol containers. Under the Montreal Protocol agreement, CFC propellant production was phased out as of January 1, 1996 in industrialized countries and will be phased out by 2010 in developing nations.

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