Global Warming

The Chemicals That Were Harming The Ozone Layer Are Back

One of humanity’s big achievements when it comes to managing our environment has been the phasing-out of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs – the chemicals that were blasting a hole in Earth’s ozone layer.

However, there may now be a new problem. Scientists from the US, UK and the Netherlands have discovered that someone, for some unknown reason, is continuing to produce CFCs, which were banned under the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

The specific chemical in question is CFC-11, which was once widely used in appliances and foam building insulation. Still found in some old freezers, it was supposed to be completely out of production by 2010. But an analysis of long-term atmospheric measurements suggests it’s still being made somewhere in East Asia—and that means the concentrations of CFC-11 in the atmosphere are declining more slowly than they should be.

The researchers found that emissions of CFC-11 were between 2014 and 2016 up by a quarter from the average between 2002 and 2012. If the source can be identified and controlled soon, they said, the damage to the ozone layer “should be minor.” If not, then it will take substantially longer than anticipated for the ozone layer to recover.

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