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Du Pont Taking Steps to Protect Endangered Ozone

Times Wire Services

Du Pont Co. said Thursday that it will begin commercial production in 1990 at Corpus Christi, Tex., of a substitute refrigeration chemical for one of the major ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbon compounds.

The new compound, HCFC-134a, has long been considered by industry as a potential substitute for CFC-12, which is used in auto air conditioners, home and commercial refrigerators and freezers and chillers for large building air conditioners. Those applications acc1869966964worldwide.

The company also expects to market by the early 1990s substances that can supplant CFCs in various foam-blowing processes used in the manufacture of insulation and cushioning.

Although several other CFC substitutes have been announced by chemical companies, this is the first for a market that Wilmington, Del.-based Du Pont says represents about 40% of the 330,000 tons of CFCs consumed annually in the United States.

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Chlorine liberated from these compounds has been blamed by scientists for depleting the ozone high in the atmosphere that shields the Earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Since HCFC-134a contains no chlorine, it cannot destroy ozone in the stratosphere when it breaks up, as CFC-12 does.

Preservation Essential

Du Pont hopes to beat its competition to the huge new markets being created by the worldwide effort to eliminate the use of CFCs and other chlorine-containing chemicals believed to be depleting the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

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Health experts say preservation of the ozone layer is essential because it screens out harmful levels of ultraviolet radiation from the sun that otherwise could vastly increase skin cancer and other health problems.

Forty-nine nations, including the United States, have signed an international treaty calling for a 50% cut in the use of CFCs, and earlier this week the chief of the Environmental Protection Agency said new scientific studies showed ozone depletion was worse than previously believed, making a complete phase-out of CFCs necessary.

Joseph Glas, director of Du Pont’s Freon Products division, said the need to phase out CFCs was clear, but he told reporters at the National Press Club: “The magnitude of the challenge is overwhelming.

“In the U.S. alone, more than $135 billion in hardware is dependent on CFCs,” he said.

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