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Scientists Baffled By Unknown Source of Ozone-Depleting Chemical 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
schwit1 writes: Scientists have found that, despite a complete ban since 2007, ozone-depleting chemicals are still being pumped into the atmosphere from some unknown source. "Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012. However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons (about 43,000 U.S. tons) per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect. "We are not supposed to be seeing this at all," said Qing Liang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study published online in the Aug. 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. "It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources."
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Scientists Baffled By Unknown Source of Ozone-Depleting Chemical

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @06:30PM (#47716243)

    Who else would, unapologetically, give the middle finger to the environment?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @06:40PM (#47716323)

      Who else would, unapologetically, give the middle finger to the environment?

      Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, US, UK, Sweden, Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Poland, and probably quite a few others.

      But not Canada. Canada would apologize.

  • Old drums leak (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Noir Angellus (2740421) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @06:35PM (#47716279)
    and there are a lot of old drums of this stuff sitting around old industrial buildings because it costs money to have it disposed of safely. There's probably a degree of it being released by the new generation of workers who have no idea what's in those old rusty drums, and the older workers have plain forgotten, and are just dumping it into drains to get rid of it and make space in the chemical storage room.
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      If that was the case, it would be showing up in tests when they see what the composition of the waste is. I haven't heard of any places in north america where concentrations of CCl4 is showing up.

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        such things are vented from old AC systems and fire suppression systems all the time, rather than properly pumped and destroyed

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Then it should be showing up in local air samples too now wouldn't it? And again, I haven't heard of it showing up anywhere.

          • by rubycodez (864176)

            they DO show up in air samples, alternative coverage of this article mentioned Tasmania, Australia

            • by Mashiki (184564)

              Well not exactly, it's showing up in batch samples. It's not showing up in various specific localized samples right. It seems that if they really wanted to find out "where it's coming from" they'd be running with more test equipment in various areas to narrow it down. Hell a smelter on the great lakes here in Ontario, has no less than 78 sampling devices in a concentric ring.

    • http://irwinallentvseries.wiki... [wikia.com]
      "Don and John come out of the ship asking about carbon tetrachloride. Smith says he uses it to remove stains--he's used it and left the top off. John asks him if he has any thoughts besides his immediate needs---without the carbon tetrachloride they will lose their food supply. They use it as food preservation (NOTE: how is a mystery---it is highly toxic). They will have to eat only non-perishable items and now face a food shortage (what about the hydroponic garden?). ..." :

  • by fibrewire (1132953) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @06:35PM (#47716285)

    I know because it's happening all over the Coachella Valley. I have seen cut rate guys NOT reclaiming or pumping down coils - jettisoning 10+ pounds each time. This occurs at least 50 times a day here in the desert that I know of. Even top paid contractors like callthegeneral.com just don't care because their commission is based on number of visits per day, and it takes an extra 15-25 minutes to pump a system down before removal. The wholesale houses even pay a couple $$$ per pound of the reclaimed stuff, but commission rates ensure blowing off straight to atmosphere every time.

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @06:51PM (#47716389)

      Nope. CCl4 is not used in HVAC systems. You are thinking of freon [wikipedia.org], which is not what TFA is about.

  • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @06:42PM (#47716333)
    Since the source is completely unclear, most posters will blindly assume it is the fault of whichever group is their bête noire. Some favorites will likely be China, North Korea and Russia, but use your imagination folks. There is just as much evidence that it is caused by evil bankers, genetically modified foods, pedophiles or US militarism.
    • Any chance to pin that on the content mafia or patent trolls? C'mon, at least ONCE such a story has to hit someone we can uniformly hate and not be controversial.

      • Any chance to pin that on the content mafia or patent trolls? C'mon, at least ONCE such a story has to hit someone we can uniformly hate and not be controversial.

        So long as you don't blame it on Tesla, Bitcoin, or Starts with a Bang, everyone here will cool with it.

    • by blue9steel (2758287) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @07:20PM (#47716559)
      Well as long as we're blaming people without evidence then I choose environmentalists. They're already responsible for global warming since they blocked the transition from fossil fuels to nuclear. I'm sure once we dig into the issue it's likely to be caused by the banning of disposable bags or the manufacture of electrical vehicles or some other process which sounds good on the surface but has unintended bad side effects.
    • by Tailhook (98486)

      Christians. They're cooking some weird god food or storing CCl4 for the second coming or something.

      It's got to be them.

      If not them then it's the Joos. Israel is trying to burn off the ozone layer. Again.

      Bastards.

      <sarcasm you dolts/>

  • From the wikipedia (Score:5, Informative)

    by mveloso (325617) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @06:42PM (#47716337)

    Not sure how accurate this is, since it's from wikipedia, but the reference seems legit.

    In 2008, a study of common cleaning products found the presence of carbon tetrachloride in "very high concentrations" (up to 101 mg/m3) as a result of manufacturers' mixing of surfactants or soap with sodium hypochlorite (bleach).[18]

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10... [acs.org]

    FTA:

    "By mixing surfactants or soap with NaOCl, it was shown that the formation of carbon tetrachloride and several other halogenated VOCs is possible"

    • by Smallpond (221300) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @07:17PM (#47716533) Homepage Journal

      Clorox had $5.6B in sales last year, of which 10% was laundry products according to their annual report. A gallon of bleach sells for $2, so if all their sales generated 275M gallons of bleach-containing chemicals = 1M m3 x 101 mg/m3 = 100,000 gm. Nope. That amount is negligible compared to what the study reports.

    • I'm wondering how much is a false detection for a similar chemical, or as the result of another chemical reaction. At work our Lead detection kits respond the same to Copper. This has led to missdiagnosis in copper plating.

      Chlorinated hydrocarbons abound in the environment. Could this be by products of burning recycled PC parts and old monitors and wire. The copper and other metals theft and recycling may be the cause.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        At work our Lead detection kits respond the same to Copper.

        Older copper and brass commonly had lead in them.

    • This is a very well known problem: most organic compounds, wherever they're found and whatever they may be, are easily halogenated (or less often substituted with other things, usually with bacterial help). Chlorine is by far the most common halogen and the most reactive electro-negative element outside of oxygen(#2) and fluorine(#1--fun stuff, watch the videos). I was going to waste bandwidth here, but here's a couple of Wikipedia links that explain things way better:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

      Blea

  • Actually it turned out to be koala flatulence.

    Turns out digesting eucalyptus releases that type of gas.

  • Why would they bother to support a UN treaty? They're like the biggest rogue state on the planet.
  • .... where it all comes from. But that stuff works great for cleaning the soot off the ground-based NOAA sensor enclosures.

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @09:36PM (#47717323)

    carbon tet and other degreasers used to just seep into the soil in "cleaning pits", I know buildings where that went on for half the 20th century.

  • by Pete Venkman (1659965) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @09:53PM (#47717403) Journal
    Couldn't the CCl4 be resulting from radical chlorination in the upper atmosphere? There is certainly enough UV light available.
    • This is close to a question I was going to ask, and will do so now.

      Have we ruled out all possible natural methods of CCl4 production? Just like how volcano's spew out tons of CO2, there may be methods, like you post for natural production of CCl4 which has acted as an automated regulator of the biosphere. Increased animal population, increased methane production, increased Ozone depletion. This normally happens so slowly that it is more spread out around the globe, instead of fixed over the poles, so it wou

  • Some will blame humans.
    Some will blame an unknown natural phenomenon.
    Bottom line?
    THEY DON'T KNOW.

    And yet, despite yet another glaring example of the tenousness of our grasp of natural and human processes, people continue to think that the planet can be engineered to 'solve' climate change, etc.

    Maybe the climate is changing, maybe it's not. Maybe it's human caused, maybe it's not. We just don't know. And maybe the wise person will hold off on acting in ignorance so they don't make things worse. The only

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