Trademark for any of several organic compounds containing fluorine (fluorocarbons) and sometimes chlorine (chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs). Nonflammable, nontoxic, and noncorrosive, they have low boiling points, which makes them useful as refrigerants. By the mid-1970s they were in wide use in refrigeration and air conditioning systems, as blowing agents for plastic foams, as fire-extinguishing agents, and in aerosol sprays. Evidence has accumulated that decomposition of CFCs in the stratosphere destroys ozone there (see ozone layer), so most of their uses have been banned. International agreements signed by most of the industrialized countries have called for the phasing out of CFC use.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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