Chlorofluorocarbons Definition

by Laurent Cousineau

Chlorofluorocarbons are compounds containing only carbon, chlorine, hydrogen, and fluorine.

Also known as CFCs, chlorofluorocarbons are greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances that can cause the formation of holes in the ozone layer.

Essentially, these chemicals which are not destroyed in the troposphere drift upwards to the stratosphere and then break down ozone when they are under the right atmospheric conditions.

Originally, CFCs were used for:

  • aerosols
  • propellants
  • air conditioning
  • insulation
  • packaging
  • refrigeration
  • solvents


Since CFCs were banned under the 1987 Montreal Protocol for harming the ozone layer, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which were less powerful ozone depleting substances, were temporarily used instead.

Later, hydrofluorocarbons, which do not break down the ozone layer, were used as an alternative.

However, hydrochlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons are both greenhouse gases covered under the Kyoto Protocol.

Greenhouse Gases

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