Why did the use of CFCs start?

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justaguide | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

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Chlorofluorocarbons are chemical compounds made of carbon, chlorine and fluorine atoms. These chemicals have a very low reactivity which makes them non-flammable and nontoxic. They are also odorless and colorless. The use of CFCs started as a replacement for gases like
ammonia, chloromethane and sulfur dioxide used as refrigerants. CFCs had a low boiling point and were non-toxic and unreactive unlike the other gases use in refrigeration systems. The use of CFCs was to a large extent responsible for smaller refrigerators to be built for domestic use.

CFCs were also used as agents to disperse insecticides as they are converted to gas as soon as they are released from a pressurized container. CFCs were also widely used as solvents, degreasing agents and cleaning agents as well a safe way to create foams used for industrial purposes.

The low reactivity of CFCs that was responsible for their wide range of applications also made them an environmental hazard as it led to the destruction of the ozone layer. This has now resulted in international treaties to stop their production and they are being replaced by other chemicals that are environmentally safe.


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