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Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

What are they?

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a group of odorless manufactured chemicals. Because they damage the earth’s ozone layer, CFCs have been banned since 1996.

Before CFCs were banned, they were used in aerosols, refrigerators, air conditioners, foam food packaging, and fire extinguishers. Prior to 2009, CFCs were used in inhalers to control asthma. The last two types of CFC inhalers were phased out in 2013.

CFCs are also greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

See also: Factories Homes Cancer

Where are Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) found?

  • Older consumer products - older refrigerators, air conditioners, fire extinguishers, and asthma inhalers

How can I be exposed to Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)?

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) commonly enter(s) the body through:

Inhalation (breathing)
  • Breathing leaking emissions from older consumer products, including asthma inhalers
Skin contact
  • Touching some types of CFCs

What happens when I am exposed to Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)?

Exposure to pressurized CFCs can cause:

  • Frostbite on the skin or in the upper airways

Inhalation of high CFC concentrations can cause:

  • Symptoms of intoxication
  • Reduced coordination
  • Light-headedness and headache
  • Tremors and convulsion
  • Irregular heartbeat

Depletion of the ozone layer from CFCs and exposure to increased ultraviolet rays can cause:

  • Cataracts
  • Weakened immune system
  • Skin cancer

Who is at risk for exposure to Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)?

  • Consumers
    • Some older consumer products contain CFCs.

Reduce your risk

If you think your health has been affected by exposure to CFCs, contact your health care professional.

Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling chemicals. For poisoning emergencies or questions about possible poisons, please contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

  • Do you own old window air conditioner units, refrigerators, freezers, or heat pumps that were manufactured before 1996 and use CFC refrigerants?
  • Do you drive a car with an air conditioner that contains CFCs?
  • Do you use any inhalers made before July 2013?
  • Do not use inhalers made before July 2013. Bring them to a proper recycling site.
  • If you use older window air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, or heat pumps that use CFCs or drive a car with an air conditioner that uses CFCs, have the CFCs professionally removed and recycled.
  • Do not allow your skin to come into direct contact with CFCs.
  • Don’t let children use pre-2013 asthma inhalers.
  • Ozone Layer Protection (Environmental Protection Agency)

    Information on ozone layer protection, including links to resources addressing ozone depletion, sun safety, and managing refrigerant emissions.

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