Study: banned ozone-destroying gas may still be in production

A chemical banned due to the harm it causes the ozone layer may be secretly in production somewhere in the world. Scientists speculate the illicit compound may be in use despite the ban due to increased levels, its presence ultimately harming efforts to restore the Earth's atmosphere. Some scientists speculate that the substance is likely being produced in East Asia.

The issue involves a gas called CFC-11, a chlorofluorocarbon that contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. Use of the chemical was banned in 2010 via the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement made to protect the environment. In the years since, chlorofluorocarbons have decreased in measurements, a key success in efforts to reverse damage caused by human activity.

However, a study recently published in Nature reveals that CFC-11 production may be happening somewhere in the world despite the Montreal Protocol. That speculation is due to increased CFC-11 emissions, a big issue that could delay ozone restoration efforts and contribute to a warming planet.

The study lays out the issue, explaining:

A simple model analysis of our findings suggests an increase in CFC-11 emissions ... despite reported production being close to zero4 since 2006 ... The increase in emission of CFC-11 appears unrelated to past production; this suggests unreported new production, which is inconsistent with the Montreal Protocol agreement to phase out global CFC production by 2010.

It is possible that the increased emissions could be due to older buildings being demolished, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Samples acquired in Hawaii lead to speculation that the CFC-11 production may be happening in East Asia, but an exact source isn't clear at this time.