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  • A mystery source is producing banned ozone-destroying chemicals
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  • A mystery source is producing banned ozone-destroying chemicals
    Researchers at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have noticed an unexpected and persistent increase in ozone-destroying chemicals, called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

    CFC-11, which is one of the banned chemicals, is the second most abundant ozone-depleting gas, commonly used in refrigerants, aerosol sprays, and styrofoam. Under the Montreal Protocol, finalised in 1987, the world agreed to begin phasing out CFC-11, ending its production altogether by 2010. The protocol was a huge success, slowly shrinking the giant hole that forms over Antarctica each September. Today, from its peak in 1993, CFC-11 concentrations have declined by 15%. But in the last few years, it looks like someone has started cheating.

    The new study has found that from 2014 to 2016, emissions of CFC-11 have increased by 25% above the average measured from 2002 to 2012, slowing the decline of the chemical by 50% from 2012. The goal of the study was to figure out where the emissions are coming from.

    The researchers found the concentration of CFC-11 to be unusually high in the Northern Hemisphere. Plus, it isn't just CFC-11 that was found to be increasing. When the researchers examined measurements from atop Mauna Loa in Hawaii, they found that other industrial emissions are also increasing. The researchers say the data points 'fairly definitively' towards Eastern Asia, somewhere around China, Mongolia and the Koreas.

    If the issue is tackled now, the damage will be minor, according to the scientists. But if the problem is allowed to persist, it could jeopardize ozone layer recovery and worsen climate change.

    Nature / Science Alert    May 17, 2018