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Any of various halocarbon compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, chlorine, and fluorine. The first chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), named Freon®, was developed in 1928. Since CFC's were chemically inert, non-irritating and nonflammable, they were chosen to replace ammonia and sulfur dioxide as refrigerants. Other applications soon followed, such as aerosol propellants, fire extinguishers and blowing agents for foams. By the 1970s, it was determined that CFC's decompose in the stratosphere releasing atomic chlorine which reacts with ozone. This depletion of the ozone layer led to the phased prohibition of CFC's in 1979. Examples of CFC's are Freon®, Halon, Frigen, Arcton, trichlorofluoromethane, and dichlorodifluoromethane.

Synonyms and Related Terms

CFC; FCC; Freon®; Frigen; Halon; Arcton; trichlorofluoromethane; dichlorodifluoromethane

Hazards and Safety

Nonflammable and noncorrosive


  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, Comment: Chlorofluorocarbon. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved July 1, 2003, from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.

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