Government Ban on Fluorocarbon Gases in Aerosol Products Begins October 15 [1978]

[EPA press release - October 15, 1978]

Today marks the beginning of the Federal government's phaseout of ozone-destroying fluorocarbon gases in most aerosol products.

Consumers may not notice any difference among their favorite sprays because many aerosol producers have already switched to other propellant gases or mechanical pumps.

The most recent official statistics show that fluorocarbons released from aerosols have declined from 511 million pounds in 1973 to about 300 million pounds last year.

Last March, the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and Consumer Product Safety Commission ordered the phaseout of "non-essential" uses of fluorocarbons in spray products, such as deodorants, hair sprays, household cleaners and pesticides. The agencies' prohibition followed studies by the National Academy of Sciences and other researchers concluding that the gases could seriously damage the atmospheric ozone layer. This layer protects the earth's surface from ultraviolet sun rays that can cause human skin cancer and harm animals and plants.

Starting October 15, 1978, manufacturers of bulk fluorocarbons can no longer make them for use in most aerosol products. The other steps in the phaseout are an end to the manufacture of spray products containing fluorocarbons on December 15, 1978, and a ban on interstate shipment of existing stocks of these products on April 15, 1979. Products already on the shelf or in comercial distribution after April 15, 1979 may continue to be sold until depleted.

Certain essential sprays are exempt from the ban including some inhalation pharmaceuticals, contraceptive foams, electrical cleaning sprays, aircraft maintenance products, and insecticides.

EPA, cooperating with FDA and CPSC, is expected to decide sometime next year whether controls are needed on the use of fluorocarbons as coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators and on other commercial uses of the gases.

U.S. producers of bulk fluorocarbons are Allied Chemical Corp., DuPont Co., Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp., Pennwalt Corp., and Racon, Inc.

Sweden will begin stopping the use of fluorocarbons in aerosols on June 30, 1979. Canada has brought about a voluntary reduction of the gases in spray products and is developing a regulatory program. The Netherlands requires that aerosols containing fluorocarbons be so labeled.

The U.S., the Soviet Union, western European nations, Japan and Australia have been invited to an international meeting on fluorocarbon controls in Bonn, West Germany, on December 6-8, 1978. A similar meeting was held in April 1977 in Washington, D.C.

This joint fluorocarbon action by the three U.S. agencies typifies increased cooperation among Federal regulators under an agreement called the Interagency Regulatory Liaison Group. The purpose of the group, which includes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in addition to EPA, FDA and CPSC, is to share knowledge in controlling toxic substances.