September 29, 1990|By John Javna

This is the third EarthWorks column about what you can do to help stop the depletion of the ozone layer. In previous columns I've mentioned CFCs and halons, two of the gases responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer.

There's another chemical to watch out for. It's called 1,1,1-Trichloroethane, and it's used in aerosol sprays, tubes and bottles. Ever heard of it? Neither had I until I spoke with scientists from the Natural Resources Defense Council. They estimate it's responsible for as much as 16 percent of the man-made ozone depletion. Yet no one seems to acknowledge that it's a threat. Worse, it's used in some aerosols that display "No CFCs -- Ozone-Safe" on their labels. So you can actually buy one of these products believing you're protecting the ozone layer -- and wind up damaging it instead.

* Who makes it? According to the NRDC, about 724 million pounds of the chemical were produced in 1988 by three companies: Dow Chemical, PPG Industries and Vulcan Chemical.

* How do you find out if it's in a product you're considering buying (or already own)? It's listed under different names.

"It goes by no fewer than 56 synonyms and trade names," the NRDC reports in its brochure "Wanted: Public Enemy 1,1,1." "Most consumer product labels list the chemical under that name or simply as trichloroethane. A few call it methyl chloroform, the name usually used in scientific studies of the ozone layer. . . . Other common synonyms are the trade name, Chloroethane, or the abbreviations TCA, MCF or 1,1,1." Unfortunately, even if 1,1,1 is used, it doesn't have to be listed on a label. So you may not know if a product contains it.

* What products do contain 1,1,1?

NRDC's booklet contains a partial listing. And it's surprising how many first-rate companies are putting us in jeopardy. The list includes: adhesives like Elmer's Contact Cement, from the Borden Co.; art supplies, like Scotch Spray Mount, from 3M; hair products, including several from Jerome Russell Cosmetics; pesticides like Raid Fogger/Kills Roaches and Fleas, from Johnson Wax; shoe and leather products (20 are produced by Kiwi Brands).

To my knowledge, the NRDC publication is the only one you can get for more information on 1,1,1. To order, send a check for $6 to NRDC Publications, 40 W. 20th St., New York, N.Y. 10011.

* What can you do?

Don't buy products with 1,1,1 in them; it's not a necessaringredient. In fact, some companies make two varieties of the same product -- one contains 1,1,1; the other doesn't. Read labels.

* Got something with 1,1,1 in it? Don't just shrug your shoulders. Send it back to the manufacturer with a note of protest.

* Write to the companies that manufacture 1,1,1 and demand that they stop manufacturing it. Here are their addresses:

Mr. Paul Oreffice, CEO, Dow Chemical Co., 2030 Williard Dow Center, Midland, Mich. 48686-0994.

Mr. V. A. Sarni, Chairman, PPG Industries Inc., One PPG Place, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15272.

Mr. Herbert A. Sklenar, Vulcan Chemicals, One Metroplex Drive, Birmingham, Ala. 35209.

These may seem similar to last week's recommendations -- and they are. They're the most effective avenues available to the average citizen. Pressure, protest, postcards. Take them seriously, and we can get some serious results. Next week, a fourth and final column on the ozone crisis.

The EarthWorks Group

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.