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Getting to know chlorofluorocarbons- (CFC) and their alternatives

The ozone layer in the earth's upper atmosphere acts as a natural filter which absorbs the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) deplete the ozone layer. Slight reductions (by as little as a few percent) in the ozone level allow more ultraviolet radiation to reach the earth's surface: This can lead to increasing number of health problems, including sunburn, skin cancer, cataract, ageing, etc. Natural processes slow down, including the plant photosynthesis and plant germination. Algae and larvae can get killed and upset marine ecology, affecting fish population.

CFCs are laboratory products that have become widely. used throughout the world. These compound -chemicals are nontoxic and would not ignite. As refrigerants, they help cool our homes, workplaces, recreation centers and vehicles. They clean computer chips and are used in the production of plastic foams as insulation materials. CFCs are commonly used in aerosol propellants and solvents, as well as in modern sterilization processes of medical equipment and instruments. CFCs are also found in fire extinguishers.


How to reduce CFC's.

· Prevent and repair leaks from air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers.

· Enhance skills of technicians in the proper handling and maintenance of junked and serviceable refrigerators and air conditioners.

· Encourage hospitals to refrain from using CFC sterilants

· Do not burn or puncture aerosol cans.

· Avoid using fire extinguishers which contain Halon- 1301 or Halon- 1211. (Read the label.)

· Do not burn styrofoam and plastics. Reduce dependence on materials made from plastic and styrofoam. Re-use existing materials instead of buying new ones.

· Use caution and handle solvents properly.

Alternatives to CFC's

· Use recycled paper products instead of styrofoam for insulating air-conditioned rooms.

· Use fire extinguishers which do not contain Halon active ingredients. Better still, use other means for fire fighting, where possible.

· Use traditional practices of using steam or autoclave in the sterilization of surgical equipment.

· Re-adopt commonly used materials for packaging or equipment and utensils for storing and handling foods. CFCs have only been recently introduced, so alternatives previously existed.

Actions we can do against CFC

· Avoid purchasing and making materials and equipment containing CFCs.

· Take part in active information and education campaigns against the use of CFCs.

· Lobby congress and other policymakers to ban materials and equipment made of or containing CFCs.


Naar, John. Design for a Liveable Planet. 1990.
Caplan, Ruth and Environmental Action. Our Planet, Ourselves. 1990.