atmosphere montreal protocol

MONTREAL PROTOCOL

Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol marked the true beginning of a concerted global effort to reduce the use of “F” gases. Known formally as the “Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer,” it was a landmark agreement among major Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) producing countries as guided by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The agreement was the first culmination of a decade-long effort to ban the use of CFC’s in aerosol spray cans, an effort in which scientists and advocates in the United States played a significant and leading role.

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BAN AEROSOL CANS

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HUMAN HAZARD

Beginning in the 1970’s there was a growing awareness in the global scientific community that CFCs in aerosol cans was contributing to something called stratospheric ozone depletion. As the scientific community connected the dots between ozone depletion as it related to an increased threat of skin cancer and other human hazards, it began to develop practical guidelines for reducing the use of CFC’s. Though it took several years of additional research and tremendous political will, the UNEP was able to convince the governments of many CFC producing nations to examine alternatives and adopt a time frame for the complete phase-out of CFC’s.

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OZONE DEPLETION

It’s almost inconceivable today to imagine leaders of the world coming together to pass such a comprehensive and environmentally responsible initiative. Moreover, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of this agreement and the scientific understanding that guided the decision making process when we think of global warming. Consider also that, at the time, there was a feeling that CFC’s were actually environmentally safe because of the inert, nontoxic nature of the chemicals. Evidence began to mount, however, that when CFC’s were broken down by ultraviolet radiation in the atmosphere, it released chlorine, which reacts catalytically with the ozone. This rather groundbreaking theory was initially met with some skepticism but as the years wore on and citizens were introduced to the discovery of a hole in the Antartic ozone layer, policy makers started taking the issue seriously.

Between 1977 and the adoption of the Montreal Protocol a decade later, the political winds were at the backs of scientists and advocates who pushed for a better tomorrow. Heightened public awareness, geopolitical circumstances and industrial processing breakthroughs brought the stars into full alignment and companies like Priority Cool® have been pushing the envelope ever since.

For more on the Montreal Protocol and subsequent updates and revisions on the EPA website.

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