Scientists Discover Five New Greenhouse Gases

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Researchers have discovered five previously undetected gases that add to the greenhouse effect. The discovery of these five greenhouse gases raises the question of setting new protocol for the use of chemicals that emits these gases in the air. Two new, separate scientific efforts have helped in detecting the gases.

In the journal, "Nature Geosciences" researchers have reported the finding of three chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and one hydro chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). On another journal "Geophysical Research Letters," researchers from the University of Toronto, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Ford Motor Co. have reported the finding of perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA).

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Johannes C. Laube of the University of East Anglia, U.K., said, "We were certainly surprised to find so many previously undetected gases out there, and we keep finding more."

The findings of the new greenhouse gases are said have exposed a loophole in the "Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer" by United Nations (UN), which bans the use of chemicals that release greenhouse gases. These gases are still in use by humans and are therefore being regularly emitted to the environment. This means UN need to put a new ban on the use of chemicals that contains these gases.

Among the new members of greenhouse gas family, CFC-112 and CFC-112a are used for cleaning electronic components (e.g. for wax removal), CFC-113a is a feedstock to produce the insecticides cyhalothrin and tefluthrin, and both CFC-113a and HCFC-133a are intermediates for the production of chemicals used in air conditioning. PFTBA is used as a coolant and has industrial applications.

At their current concentrations, the new gases do not pose a major threat to the ozone layer. Their exposure in the environment over a long period of time however will make them a major threat.

Johannes C. Laube of the University of East Anglia,U.K., said, "What is worrying is the continuing increase of the two gases, in particular that of CFC-113a, which is a. much more dangerous to ozone than HCFC-133a, and b. has started to accelerate its increase after 2010. If such a trend were to continue, it would become a serious threat to the ozone layer within the next decade.”