Monday, November 29, 1999

Chemicals that solve one environmental problem may worsen another

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Washington, June 17 (ANI): Scientists are reporting that chemicals used to revert one environmental disaster, may actually worsen another.Chemicals that helped solve a global environmental crisis in the 1990s - the hole in Earth's protective ozone layer - may be making another problem - acid rain, according to Jeffrey Gaffney, Carrie J. Christiansen, Shakeel S. Dalal, Alexander M. Mebel and Joseph S. Francisco.Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were replaced by hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) because they do not damage the ozone layer. However, in addition to the fact that HCFCs act like super greenhouse gases, 4,500 times more potent than carbon dioxide (which was revealed by earlier studies), HCFCs may break down in the atmosphere to form oxalic acid, one of the culprits in acid rain.They used a computer model to show how HCFCs could form oxalic acid via a series of chemical reactions high in the atmosphere. The model could also be used to determine whether replacements for the replacements are as eco-friendly as they appear before manufacturers spend billions of dollars in marketing them.Their study appears in ACS' Journal of Physical Chemistry A. (ANI)

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