Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC)


Definition - What does Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) mean?

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a combination of chemicals that can be used as refrigerants, aerosol propellants and as cleansers or organic solvents. CFCs are comprised of carbon, chlorine, hydrogen, and fluorine.

CFCs are colorless, odorless, and non-combustible liquids. The chemicals are highly volatile and will evaporate when exposed to an open environment. Because of this evaporation, the chemicals can be easily inhaled.

While deemed non-toxic, direct exposure to some CFC may cause respiratory problems, unconsciousness, or an irregular heartbeat. The chemicals may also cause skin and eye irritation.

WorkplaceTesting explains Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC)

In 1989, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a publication calling for employers to take steps to reduce the hazards associated with certain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used in the workplace. The agencies reported that when workers were exposed to large amounts of these chemicals in confined or poorly ventilated spaces they were at risk for death by asphyxiation or cardiac arrhythmia.

In addition to ensuring proper ventilation, workers handling CFCs may wear other personal protective equipment such as safety goggles or gloves to avoid unnecessary exposure to CFCs.

Initially, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were thought to be safe for many industrial uses. However, later studies indicated that their use caused harm to the earth's ozone layer. The chemicals break down and release chlorine when they are released and reach the earth's upper atmosphere. As a result, CFCs has been phased out of commercial and industrial use. Some forms of CFCs remain in use as the phase-out continues.

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