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Home is meant to be a secure haven. But if your own home incorporates harmful and poisonous supplies, it could possibly be a menace to your well being and the planet’s. The Red List is an inventory of “worst at school” supplies, chemical compounds, and parts the inexperienced constructing business tries to keep away from. Some of those, like asbestos, are well-known, even to folks outdoors of the development business. Human-made supplies we confer with by their chemical title, like chlorinated fluorocarbons, could also be much less acquainted to you. But they are often simply as dangerous. Knowing about these supplies and which merchandise comprise them can assist you make greener decisions at dwelling that make the entire world a greater place to reside.
There are two principal lessons of chlorinated fluorocarbon that seem on the Red List: chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons. Both names are a mouthful. So, they’re often referred to extra merely as CFCs and HFCs (or generally HCFCs), respectively. Once broadly utilized in a wide range of merchandise, CFCs had been phased out by the Montreal Protocol after it turned obvious that they had been chargeable for the depletion of the ozone layer. HFCs, that are far much less dangerous to ozone, changed them in most merchandise. But HFCs nonetheless have ozone-depleting potential. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is concentrating on HFCs for gradual phaseout by 2030. Neither CFCs nor HFCs happen naturally, and each varieties are potent greenhouse gases contributing to climate change with world warming potentials (GWP) measured in 1000’s (in comparison with CO2 with a GWP of 1).
Ozone depletion is responsible for an elevated incidence of pores and skin most cancers, cataracts, impairment of human immune programs, and harm to wildlife. Ranging from elevated pure disasters that create climate refugees to ocean acidification, the consequences of climate change are so quite a few and extreme they beggar perception.
Despite the deliberate phaseout, a stunning quantity of home items nonetheless comprise HFCs. Eliminating HFCs the way in which we eradicated CFCs a technology in the past might forestall as much as 0.5 degrees Celsius of warming over the subsequent century, attaining one-third of the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.
In the house, a very powerful HFC is used as a refrigerant and located in, you guessed it, the refrigerator. Most fridges made earlier than 2021 comprise the HFC R-134a. Beginning in 2021, all U.S. fridges are made with R-600a, which has 200 occasions much less world warming potential. That actually will increase the attraction of upgrading to a brand new fridge. But should you do, make sure you recycle your previous one correctly. Dumping an previous fridge will ultimately launch all of the refrigerant into the ambiance. The Responsible Appliance Disposal program has created a searchable map to search out service suppliers who will be sure that the HFCs are captured and disposed of safely.
Air conditioners additionally use HFC refrigerants. The most commonly used refrigerant in air conditioners is the HFC often called R-410A, a greenhouse gasoline that’s over 2,000 occasions stronger than carbon dioxide. Technological options like 3M film and solid-state thermoelectric air-con programs might get rid of the necessity for HFC refrigerants. But neither possibility is accessible for widespread adoption for dwelling cooling but. Similarly, Global Cooling Prize-winning prototypes that use safer refrigerants gained’t be commercially obtainable till 2025. In the meantime, a warmth pump/heat exchanger is a more sensible choice than an air conditioner.
Automotive air conditioners are even worse than dwelling air conditioners. Most automobiles at the moment mechanically embody an AC unit, and most of the people wouldn’t select to forego one anyway. Unfortunately, it isn’t clear that saving the air conditioner for particularly sizzling days reduces the quantity of HFC that it leaks. (However, not working the automotive’s AC can enhance gasoline mileage, thus decreasing some local weather affect.)
Although light-weight, foams usually are not gaseous. Yet the HFCs used as blowing brokers within the manufacture of foams account for 11% of HFC emissions. As together with your automotive’s AC, there isn’t a lot you are able to do to enhance the manufacture of foams. But every time doable, you possibly can select to buy different supplies. Consider sustainable insulation like cellulose or cotton batting as a substitute of spray foam, keep away from reminiscence foam mattresses, and use recyclable paper streamers or confetti as a substitute of foolish string at your subsequent party.
HFC 152A is the propellant in aerosol merchandise comparable to hair spray, antiperspirants, disinfectants, and cleansing merchandise. There are some low GWP aerosols, however practically all of them nonetheless have higher GWP than CO2, the first greenhouse gasoline. Whenever doable, it’s higher to make use of a product with a pump spray than an aerosol. Or you possibly can swap to a special software technique (comparable to a stable deodorant as a substitute of a sprig).