Rise in ozone-depleting CFC gases traced to China

23 Mai, 2019, 08:36 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Earth seen from the International Space Station

"A recently reported slowdown in the decline of the atmospheric concentration of CFC-11 after 2012, however, suggests that global emissions have increased", the study explains.

That deal agreed that the chemicals, used as a coolant in refrigerators and to make styrofoam and other products, would be phased out by 2010.

"Our measurements show spikes in pollution, when air arrives from industrialized areas".

Tough European Union environment rules make it illegal to discard fridges containing CFCs.

Ever since the ban, the concentration of the chemical in the atmosphere has been steadily declining but previous year startled scientists discovered that the pace of that slowdown dropped by half from 2013 to 2017. Because the chemical is not naturally occurring, the change could only have been produced by new emissions.

There were indications that some region in eastern Asia was still emitting thousands of tonnes of CFC-11, but the exact location was not known.

A report previous year by the UK-based non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency, said it had collected evidence from 18 companies in 10 Chinese provinces that showed use of CFC-11 is "widespread and pervasive" in factories that make insulation foam for buildings.

Suspicions were strengthened when authorities subsequently shut down some of these facilities without explanation.

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The global team of scientists from the UK, South Korea, Japan, the US, Australia and Switzerland who conducted the study have published their latest findings in the journal Nature.

The team also ran computer simulations that confirmed the origin of the CFC-11 molecules.

"We did not find evidence of increased emissions from Japan, the Korean peninsula or any other country", added Luke Western, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bristol.

The surge in emissions of chlorofluorocarbons, which were banned under the Montreal Protocol of 1987, was reported a year ago.

NASA combination images showing areas of low ozone above Antarctica in 2000, left, and 2018, right. "If emissions do not decline, it will delay the recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole, possibly for decades", said Paul Fraser, an honorary fellow the CSIRO Climate Science Centre in Australia.

"Increased emissions of CFC-11 are of concern because it is a powerful ozone-depleting chemical". When the ozone layer is weakened, more UV rays can get through and affect humans, making them prone to skin cancer, cataracts and other diseases.

And it's slowing down the rate of recovery for the hole in the crucial ozone layer. But a study past year found that the ozone layer was unexpectedly declining in the lower stratosphere over the populated tropical and mid-latitude regions.

That study identified two possible culprits: industrial chemicals not covered by the Montreal Protocol called "very short-lived substances" (VSLSs), and climate change.

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