Banned ozone damaging CFC-11 chemical found

The Environmental Investigations Agency (EIA) found that home insulation manufacturers in China are widely and openly using CFC-11 within their processes.  The chemical CFC-11 was fully banned in the country back in 2010 as it significantly damages the ozone layer and has a warming impact.

Scientists and researchers have recently been extremely puzzled by the mysterious rise in emissions and damage to the ozone layer within the East Asian region.  With rumours even circulating, that the chemical was being used to secretly enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons.

In reality however, it seems that the mysterious rise in emissions is due to the use of CFC-11 as an efficient "blowing agent" for polyurethane foam, helping the foam to expand into rigid thermal insulation used within houses to cut energy bills and reduce carbon emissions.

China's polyurethane foam makes up about one-third of global production.  Therefore, according to the EIA if the foam is predominantly made using an ozone-depleting substance, it could set back the closing of the ozone hole by a decade or more.  Researchers estimate that if the use of the chemical continues, it would be the equivalent of CO₂ from 16 coal-fired power stations every year.

Avipsa Mahapatra a researcher from EIA told BBC News after contacting foam manufacturing factories ‘that companies very openly confirmed using CFC-11 while acknowledging it was illegal’.  From their detailed discussions with executives in 18 companies, the EIA concluded that the chemical is used in the majority of the polyurethane insulation the firms produce.

It is now likely that likely is that China will be encouraged to crack down on the production of CFC-11s and to launch a full-scale investigation with the support of the Montreal Protocol secretariat.