This news item was created by students Peter Walker, Jeremy Tillman, Nick Hurt, Julie Reynolds, Missy Fillmann and Mimi Ly as part of their Chemistry 210 Semester Project in WS99 under the guidance of Prof. Rainer Glaser.

Glaser's "Chemistry is in the News"
To Accompany Wade Organic Chemistry 4/e.
Chapter 6. Alkyl Halides.

For each of the following questions, please refer to the following article:

by Tim Beardsley, Scientific American, July 1998.

Editorial Comments

The depletion of the earth's ozone layer has been a hot topic in the news for many years. One of the main sources of this problem is chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. The more advanced industrial nations tried to reduce the emission of these dangerous compounds by passing the Montreal Protocol. This treaty put restrictions on these industrialized countries and cut the emission of CFCs by nearly ninety percent.

Despite these efforts, CFCs are still being found in these industrialized countries today. They are being smuggled into the country from less developed nations such as Russia, China, and India. These developing industrial countries are allowed to produce certain amounts of CFCs but the selling of these hazardous materials to foreign entities is prohibited. A promininent smuggled material is the freon that is used in automobile air conditioners. Eight leading industrial countries met in the United Kingdom to discuss anti smuggling tactics. The United States began Operation Cool Breeze to combat the smuggling of these materials into the country. This program has led to the capture of illegal materials and convictions of many of the suppliers.

The smuggling of CFCs is a serious problem that is beginning to obtain the attention that it requires. Other nations are following the example of the United States and starting programs to cease these illegal activities. Unfortunately, this problem will not be easily resolved. There is a substantial demand for these products throughout the world. This raises the price that people are willing to pay for the smuggled goods. As long as this is true, profit seekers will continue to move CFCs across the border on the black market.

Pertinent Text References
Chapter 6: Alkyl Halides: Nucleophilic Substitution and Elimination
Section 6-3: Common Uses of Alkyl Halides


Question 1: This article dicusses the smuggling of freon amongst other various forms or chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. These CFCs ascend to the upper atmosphere and decompose. This depletes the ozone layer by reacting with the ozone molecules and forming diatomic oxygen. What are some of the effects that this depletion has on the earth and its creatures.

A. The depletion of the ozone has a number of significant effects upon the earth. Some of the more prominent examples are the increase of ultra violet radiation upon the enivironment and the raising of the temperature of the earth.

Question 2: The United States is among a small group of industrialized countries that meet to set regulations on the emissions of CFCs. These countries go to great lengths to control this industry and regulate other countries as well. Examples of this are Operation Cool Breeze and other anti smuggling task forces. What do these countries gain from this committment of resourses?

A. They ensure the security of the ozone layer so it will not be damaged to a greater extent. These measures also keep the illegal products out of their own countries and protect the research and development of new compounds to replace the CFCs in the cooling process.

Question 3: A great deal of research has been done to develop new compounds to replace the CFCs to serve as coolants. Describe the main form of these new compounds and how they are less harmful on the ozone layer.

A. These CFCs are being replaced with compounds that have a hyrdrogen bonded to the central carbon in place of one of the halogens. These are known as HCFCs. These compounds decompose before they reach the upper atmosphere so the damage done to the ozone layer is significantly less.

Question 4: The smuggling and use of CFCs poses a significant problem to the ozone layer. Many countries are beginning to deploy large amounts of resourses to combat this problem. Discuss with your friends whether this expenditure is warranted with the other considerable problems in society that demand attention.

Question 5: Open and review the India web site. This discusses the restrictions and aid that is given to the Indian government to control the production of CFCs. Look at the table that describes the allocation of funds to control various forms of CFCs and discuss possible uses for each type of compound.

A. Each form of CFC can be used for various purposes. Although the main purposes of most are things such as coolants or solvents.

Question 6: There is a high demand for illegal CFCs eventhough they harm the environment and are not produced for the market domestically. Cite some reasons for this high demand.

A. Many older machines and devices that were in widespread use in the United States require CFCs for operation. A great example of this is air conditioners in older cars. They require freon to operate and this substance is now illegal. This creates a demand for these items to avoid the cost of complete replacement of products.