Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

CFC, Klorfluorkarboner, fullständigt halogenerade


Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

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Molecular formula


 Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) is a group of halogenated hydrocarbons consisting of a short carbon chain. CFCs are also known under the trade name Freon1. These substances evaporate easily and are very stable.


The use CFCs has been prohibited since the mid 1990’s2. Before that, CFCs were used in spray cans as a solvent and as a propellant. CFCs have also been used as a cooling agent in refrigeration and air conditioning systems and in refrigerators3. During the 1960’s to the 1990’s CFCs were used as a blowing agent during production of insulation materials for use in district heating pipes, water heaters, ground slabs, walls and so forth. The two most common insulation materials containing CFCs are PUR (polyurethane) and XPS (extruded polystyrene)4.

Sources and transportation pathways

Nowadays insulation material is the largest source of CFC emissions5. Emissions of CFCs from insulation material occur both during incorrect disposal of CFC containing construction material during demolition and by passive leakage of CFCs from insulation material. In addition, CFC emissions also occur from products where CFCs have been used as cooling agents.

Effects on environment and health

The gaseous chlorofluorocarbons have a strong ozone depleting effect. A thinner ozone layer contributes to increased radiation on earth6. Chlorofluorocarbons are also very potent greenhouse gases that contribute to the increased greenhouse gas effect. The increased greenhouse gas effect results in an increase of the average temperature on earth, which for example leads to climate change and rising of the sea level7. Some chlorofluorocarbons may cause long-term damage to aquatic organisms8 9.

Health effects vary somewhat between different chlorofluorocarbons. Some chlorofluorocarbons may be harmful by skin contact10 or cause severe eye irritation11.

International agreements and regulations

Chlorofluorocarbons are regulated by the UN Montreal Protocol, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the EU VOC Solvents Emissions Directive (1999/13/EC) and the EU Regulation on substances that deplete the ozone layer (EC 1005/2009). The UN Protocol on PRTRs and the EU E-PRTR regulation regulate how data on chlorofluorocarbon emissions is made available.