Science 3 min read

Study Identifies China as Major Source of CFC Gases

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humphery /

A team of researchers from the University of Bristol has identified China as the culprit for the increase of CFC gases in our planet’s atmosphere. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team reported that they discovered new emissions of the gas coming from East Asia, particularly from the eastern portion of China.

The researchers wrote in The Conversation:

“A global ban on the production of CFCs has been in force since 2010, due to their central role in depleting the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Since global restrictions on CFC production and use began to bite, atmospheric scientists had become used to seeing steady or accelerating year-on-year declines in their concentration.”

According to the team, they noticed that since 2013, the decline of the second most abundant chlorofluorocarbon known as CFC-11 has slowed drastically.

New Emission of CFC Gases

Before its ban, CFC-11 was commonly used to manufacture insulating foams. However, the usage of CFC-11 has been prohibited since 2010.

So, the researchers expect that any CFC-11 in the atmosphere right now should be coming from old foams in buildings and refrigerators, which should eventually decline with time.

According to the team, the spike in CFC emission led them to look for clues using other measurements from around the world. The team reported that all monitoring stations, mainly in Europe, North America, and surrounding regions, were showing a consistent decline in the emission of CFC.

What the team noticed was the inconsistencies in the readings from their stations in Jeju Island in South Korea and Hateruma Island in Japan. The two stations recorded spikes in the concentration of CFC gases when plumes of CFC-11 coming from industries in nearby regions passed by.

CFC Emission Spikes

What’s more alarming was that the spikes had increased since 2013, indicating that there had been an increase in emission somewhere in the region. The team said:

“From the simulations and the measured concentrations of CFC-11, it became apparent that a major change had occurred over eastern China. Emissions between 2014 and 2017 were around 7,000 tonnes per year higher than during 2008 to 2012.”

The team reported that the figures show that the emissions from the area had increased dramatically in the past years, accounting for around 40 to 60 percent of the global increase.

The researchers noted that it’s not yet clear why China has restarted the use of CFC-11 after the 2010 ban. It should be noted that the country was a signatory of the Montreal Protocol which pushed for the global banning of CFC usage.

It is currently assumed that insulating foam manufacturers in China refuse to transition and use second-generation substitutes to CFC-11 like HFCs and other harmless gases. It is also possible that the emissions come not just from China but in other unmonitored regions near the country like India, Russia, South America, or most of Africa.

Read More: Scientists To Reduce Carbon Emissions By Turning CO2 Into Basalt Rock

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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