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Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Updated: Jan 7

Writer: Adar Özalkak

There is a gas that is found in refrigerant gasses, foams, and many other areas but causes serious damage to the ozone layers. The name of this gas is chlorofluorocarbon accessories. So what exactly is chlorofluorocarbon gas?

Chlorofluorocarbons are fully or partially halogenated hydrocarbons containing carbon (C), hydrogen (H), chlorine (Cl), and fluorine (F) produced as volatile derivatives of methane, ethane, and propane. Chlorofluorocarbons are used in air conditioners, foams, and many more (2). The synthesis of CFCs was first made by Belgian scientist Frédéric Swarts. After Frédéric, in the 1920s Thomas Midgley Jr., developed the synthesis process initiated by Frédéric and pioneered the use of CFC as a refrigerant to replace the toxic ammonia (NH3), chloromethane (CH3Cl) and sulfur dioxide (SO2)(1).

Chlorofluorocarbon gas was first used commercially during World War II to extinguish or cool fires in military aircraft, but these first halons contained an excessive amount of toxic substance. However, over time, chlorofluorocarbon gas was opened to civilian use. By the late 1960s, it had become standard in many applications where water and foam threatened to cause harm, including computer rooms, laboratories, museums, and art collections. On warships in the 1970s, Bromo fluoro alkanes(a type of CFC) became the best agent for the rapid extinguishing of severe fires in confined spaces with minimal risk to personnel.

Chlorofluorocarbons, released heavily by human-induced sources into the atmosphere since 1930, react with ozone (O₃) —which is the gas forming the ozone layer—and cause depletion in the ozone layer. As a result, it causes an increase in the UV rays falling on the earth, resulting in increased prevalence rates of diseases such as skin cancer, as well as the deterioration of ecology. The atmospheric effects of chlorofluorocarbons are not limited to their role as ozone-depleting chemicals since chlorofluorocarbons are also greenhouse gasses implying that like water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) gasses, chlorofluorocarbons as well posses chemical properties allowing it to surround the Earth and prevent heat from escaping. By 1987, the ozone layer had thinned dramatically, and in response, the Montreal Protocol was drawn up, with diplomats signing an agreement calling for drastic reductions in the production of chlorofluorocarbons(4). On March 2, 1989, 12 European Union countries agreed to ban the production of all chlorofluorocarbons by the end of the century. In 1990 diplomats met in London and voted to significantly strengthen the Montreal Protocol, calling for the complete elimination of chlorofluorocarbons by 2000. By 2010, chlorocarbon production had been halted and outlawed in developing as well (Turkey banned the import and production of chlorofluorocarbons in 2006). After chlorofluorocarbons were banned, they were replaced by hydrofluorocarbons (HFC). In addition, according to NASA, the holes formed as a result of the disinformation caused by chlorofluorocarbons have started to heal gradually(3).

To briefly summarize, chlorofluorocarbons have been used by humans for about a century, especially as a refrigerant due to its unique chemical properties, but later on, the damage to the ozone layer was noticed, so chlorofluorocarbons were banned under the Montreal Protocol. Currently, the damage to the ozone layer is prevented to a considerable extent and, since the ozone layer can renew itself, the holes opened in the ozone layer are slowly closing in parallel. However, global warming has not been stopped yet because there are many different gasses other than chlorofluorocarbon gas that cause global warming. Therefore, the Montreal Protocol could not prevent global warming and more inclusive agreements are needed to maintain ecological balance on Earth.


1.Kloroflorokarbonlar - çevre Kimyası - Kimya. BilgiPedia. (2020, February 8). Retrieved February 13, 2023, from

2.Kaya, Y. | A. (2018, July 19). Kloroflorokarbon Gazları (CFC) Nedir? " TechWorm. TechWorm. Retrieved February 13, 2023, from

3.Home "DergiPark. Home " DergiPark. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2023, from

4.CSB. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2023, from

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