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Science & Technology

Mystery rise in ozone-depleting CFC detected

May 17, 2018 | Comment icon 9 comments



Someone is still producing ozone-depleting chemicals. Image Credit: NASA
Scientists suspect that someone is still producing a banned chemical that is known to damage the ozone layer.
Situated high up in the planet's stratosphere, the ozone layer is a special region which helps to protect the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun.

Scientists first noticed that it appeared to be thinning above Antarctica back in the 1980s, a worrying trend that was being fueled by the presence of certain chemicals in hair sprays, refrigerators, air conditioning systems and other CFC-containing products.

The discovery that these chemicals were responsible for depleting the ozone layer led to a significant reduction in the manufacture and use of CFCs in the hope that this would slow down or even reverse the damage that they had been causing.

Now though, more than 30 years later, scientists have detected an unexplained rise in atmospheric levels of CFC-11 - suggesting that someone, somewhere is still producing it.
Illegal manufacture of the chemical in East Asia is thought to be primarily responsible.

"The [findings] do point in that direction, fairly definitively," said Dr Stephen Montzka. "We are making the measurements from very far away from these regions and I think more specificity is going to come once the people... in that region... look carefully at their measurements and publish their results."

"Any production of an ozone-depleting gas that's controlled by the Montreal Protocol has to be reported to the ozone secretariat, and, currently, global production is essentially zero."

"We know of no production even for intermediary or side products."

Source: BBC News | Comments (9)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Vilasarius 4 years ago
It is unbelievable that someone would continue to produce something that could be so detrimental to earth's survival. But greed, lack of empathy, or a dozen other reason's overrule the word "unbelievable."
Comment icon #2 Posted by keithisco 4 years ago
There must be millions of ancient refrigerators and air conditioning units in East Asia that are just thrown in landfill to leak their CFC's into the atmosphere.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Doug1029 4 years ago
CFCs eventually decompose naturally, but it's a slow process.  We'll need some research to trace the source of these new CFCs.  In the meantime, it's too early to panic. Doug
Comment icon #4 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
C'mon, we all know it's Donny Trump's secret hair spray factory. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by pallidin 4 years ago
Well, at least the World at-large recognizes the dangers to our Ozone of unabated release of certain chemicals into our air. Not perfect, but a good start and effort.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Carlos Allende 4 years ago
_(looks up from spraying Digby the Biggest Dog in the World with giant hairspray)_
Comment icon #7 Posted by Calibeliever 4 years ago
I consider the eradication of CFCs one of the great triumphs of mankind working together to solve a problem. I remember all the outcry about how it would devastate the economy, disrupt manufacturing and cause cthulhu to rise. There was much gnashing and wailing and none of it came to pass. It should have been a lesson to us about how industry tries to debunk science so they can continue their destructive practices ... nope.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Mumbo Gumbo 4 years ago
I do air conditioning work. When I first started out, in the late 1970's and the early 1980's, We thought nothing of just letting refrigerants out into the atmosphere,because They didn't know about ozone depletion back then. When a compressor got hot and cut off on thermal overload, We would turn the bottle of R-22 upside down (to get liquid refrigerant) and spray the compressor with it until it cooled down.I'm sorry now that I did that, but back then We didn't know any better. I feel like far East countries like China may be responsible for the release of CFC's, because They don't seem to be ... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by ChaosRose 4 years ago
It almost seems as if people have read this and they're taking it literally. The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.


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