Statement at a Public Meeting on Chlorofluorocarbons

by Russell E. Train
[EPA statement - December 3, 1976]

In opening this first public meeting on proposals to control the nonessential uses of chlorofluorocarbons in aerosols, I want to briefly summarize the focus of EPA's concern. The National Academy of Sciences released a report in September confirming hypothetical predictions that the introduction of fluorocarbons into the upper atmosphere does deplete the ozone layer around the earth. It like confirms that the depletion of the ozone layer does lead to an increase in ultraviolet radiation on the surface of the earth, and that this will increase the incidence of skin cancer in humans as well as having effects still not quantified on vegetation, and other forms of life. It will also have an impact on climate, including a change in temperature at the surface of the earth.

The Academy also recommended that the introduction of nonessential fluorocarbons into the atmosphere should be selectively regulated.

Today's meeting is to discuss our intent to develop by April 1977, proposed regulations for the nonessential aerosol uses of F-11, F-12 and other chlorofluorocarbons. We will also examine by June 1978 the environmental risks, benefits and available alternatives to other chlorofluorocarbon uses such as refrigerants and foams which are used widely in padding and insulation. This is in addition to other actions being taken by other federal agencies.

These actions are being coordinated through the Chlorofluorocarbon Work Group represented by the panel here today. This group, chaired by EPA, includes the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Other federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, are providing technical support to the work group. In the last few days, both the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration have also stated their intentions in regulating all nonessential uses of chlorofluorocarbons.

Our increasing awareness of the environmental effects of chlorofluorocarbons upon the stratosphere has made it clear that we must initiate the regulatory process without further delay. We are immediately beginning to examine alternative solutions, using the expertise and advice of industry, the public and other affected federal agencies. Only by starting now can we expect to issue final regulations within the next two years--a time period identified by the National Academy of Sciences in which selective regulation should be undertaken.

I have called on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries at a meeting in October in Brussels to join with the United States in adopting national policy commitments to phase out nonessential aerosol uses of chlorofluorocarbons. In the longer term, I have also suggested the desirability of exploring the development of an international convention dealing with man's activities which adversely affect the upper atmosphere.

The United States produces about 40 percent of the F-11 and F-12 chlorofluorocarbons; Western Europe produces about 37 percent, and Eastern Europe about 11 percent. I therefore have scheduled an international meeting of foreign countries to be held in Washington on April 26-28, 1977, to explore together the necessity for effective regulatory action by our several governments.

I want to mention one other action EPA has taken on this problem. On October 18, 1976, EPA notified the producers, formulators and registrants of pesticides that chlorofluorocarbons should be discontinued unless they can be shown to be essential to the safety and efficacy of the product. We strongly urged registrants to voluntarily utilize propellants other than chlorofluorocarbons 11 and 12 in registered pesticide products. We also indicated that failure to voluntarily discontinue these propellants could result in cancellation of the product's registration.

In addition, we are requiring that all pesticide products containing chlorofluorocarbons produced after April 15, 1977, must be prominently labeled with a consumer warning.

Today's meeting is to consider nonessential uses of chlorofluorocarbons in all products except those under jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration. The meeting is intended to produce information on alternative products and propellants for chlorofluorocarbon aerosols, the economic impact of phasing out nonessential chlorofluorocarbon aerosols, and the health and environmental effects.

The total U.S. production of chlorofluorocarbons was estimated to be 737 million pounds in 1975. A restriction on the nonessential uses of these aerosol propellants would limit their demand to 345 to 345 million pounds or 47 percent of the 1975 total.

We must begin now to formulate the regulations and policies, by all agencies of our government, that are necessary to effectively control this problem. I look forward to your comments during today's meetings as we begin this process together.