The use of aerosols in Spain, as in the rest of the world, is shrouded in myths. It is commonly believed that this type of products usually generates an impact in the environment.
Nevertheless, although originally this was the situation, over the years and with the result of the development of technology, the confirmation has been achieved in the idea that this type of products are currently friendly with nature.
What has changed? In fact, with the introduction of these products in the 1970s, it has been proven that only one component of the aerosols damaged the ozone layer. Nonetheless, over the years, this harmful component identified as CFCs or artificial chlorofluorocarbon was used haphazardly while it damaged our natural environment.
As it can be seen, the success of aerosols with CFCs lead up to a progressive deterioration, therefore, there is a need to create consciousness about this situation. However, we bring you good news!
The composition of aerosols in Spain and other countries has been gradually changing. As a consequence, some innovative companies have currently decided to protect the environment by manufacturing products that offer a more positive overview for everybody. Congratulations!
Aerosols in Spain: a major change
In 1987, the world takes a decisive step in the correct direction thanks to the establishment of the Montreal Protocol, where among other events it establishes the phase out process of CFCs in aerosols and the replacement of the latter by components that do not damage the ozone layer.
From this point onwards, the companies responsible for products filled in aerosols in Spain, the European Union and the rest of the nations that form the UN are bound to employ in the manufacturing process components that do not damage our environment.
Most certainly the emissions of the depleting substances of this vital layer have been reduced to the very minimum due to the new components used. Thus, it is necessary to know all about this subject area.
What is an aerosol?
It is important to know that aerosols, also known as aerosol dispensers, are non-refillable containers produced in metal, plastic or even glass, which contain a compressed gas.
The containers include in the upper section a device that allows the discharge of the content, so that the latter is expelled as liquid, solid, paste, powder, foam or even liquid-gas particles.
The main feature is the fact that the container has its own energy for its operation. This energy is produced because the container is pressurized (under pressure) in a sealed container.
What is a propellant?
It is defined as a sort of gas, which is manipulated to boost certain substances that contain in this case an aerosol through the valve.
Propellants are produced by petroleum products and contain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Originally, there was a suspicion that these may contribute to air pollution, but it was determined that these have a short lifespan, making them environmentally friendly.
Nevertheless, there are different types of propellants, which are potentially harmful, such as, for instance, rockets and projectiles. On the other hand, these are well-known as propellants and are used to generate propulsion or discharge firearms.
The myth about aerosols
It should be noted that CFCs were not only used by the aerosol industry, but also by the industry of refrigeration, cleaning of electronic equipment, air conditioners, fire extinguishers, among other areas.
However, the world blamed exclusively aerosols for the damage caused in the ozone layer, which consequently produced the immediate deterioration of the industry globally speaking, despite manufacturers deployed and promoted the Montreal Protocol, to such an extent that they collaborated with the scientific diffusion in support of the planet.
A theory that saved the ozone layer
As we know, CFCs constituted the components used as propellants in the aerosol manufacturing. Nevertheless, the catastrophic damage caused to the ozone layer enforced to promote a change.
The discovery arose from the theory presented by Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland where the adverse effects of chlorofluorocarbons to the ozone layer were explained.
At such times, the use of petroleum products or hydrocarbons as propellants appeared, although the features or characteristics were not as effective nor positive initially as CFCs. For instance, CFCs are not flammable, while hydrocarbons are.
After the theory Molina-Rowland was known concerning the depletion of the ozone layer, the aerosol industry in Spain and other countries members of the UN did not hesitate to join this change. The support of the Montreal Protocol, that established the replacement of CFCs, was total.
The appearance in Spain and in the rest of the world
United States registered the appearance of the first aerosol, around the year 1940. During the Second World War, the North American soldiers used this product to beat diseases caused by insects in the Pacific regions.
The production of the first insecticides in aerosols reached fifty million containers. A considerable amount returned to the North American industry after the conflict, as a surplus.
Given the success in sales and the potential utility, over the following decades, the first hairsprays and air fresheners started to be manufactured.
The first aerosol in Spain was manufactured in 1957. In a short period of time, the diversity of products extended and the production was multiplied globally, to such an extent that resulted in the “success” of aerosols. This product was cleverly included in the beauty, automotive or culinary industry, among other areas of influence.
Current production in the world
The aerosol production field in Spain and the European Union lead with a 41% of 10 thousand million units that are annually manufactured in the world. United States then follows with a 28% of the production and the rest of the world, a 31%.
Hereafter, a brief overview is presented related to the most outstanding moments in the history of aerosols.
In 1837, Perpigna invented the siphon valve. The aerosol arose from some modifications of this creation.
The first aerosol, as we know it today, was patented in 1899 by Helbling & Pertsch.
In 1945, the valves and the disposable containers were created.
Two years after, in 1947, United States started to manufacture bulk aerosols for domestic use.
In 1974, it was discovered that CFCs, used as propellants in the manufacturing, may destroy the ozone.
In 1985, the hole in the ozone layer was detected, especially in the Antarctic region.
The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 aiming to reduce the use of CFCs. Currently CFCs are only used in certain medicinal products, where there are no replacements.
Multiple application of aerosols
Both at domestic or industrial level, it can be noticed sometimes the wide range of applications which may have these products in aerosol to fill.
At home, aerosols can be seen in insecticides, cleaning products, air fresheners or personal care products, such as shaving foams, deodorants and hairsprays, among other products.
On the other hand, in the artistic design industry, we find aerosols in lacquers, paints or adhesives. In medicine, these can be found in asthma inhalers. In leisure, we may find aerosols in artificial snow, among other leisure products.
Furthermore, the culinary industry has also included in aerosols the presentation of the whipped cream and other delights, such as the Chantilly cream. Wonderful!
Inside and outside
Generally speaking, an aerosol filler is composed of two different parts: a valve and a container. However, there are more parts that are not perceptible at a first glance. We will introduce here a description of each of the elements.
This component is a cover providing support to the dosing valve, as well as it has high resistance to pressure and provides a design element to the product.
It allows the opening and the closing of the content of the filler. It may be closed or opened, which will affect the way the product flows.
Initially it was CFCs and, currently it is propane, butane or other hydrocarbon. This component is placed in the upper part of the container.
It represents the substance to spray. It can be creamy or fluid and it is placed in the lower part of the container.
It crosses from the bottom of the container until the valve. The content rises through this component.
It is a filler made essentially of tin and aluminium. It contains the filler and the propellant gas under pressure. Aiming to avoid leakages or explosions, this component must comply with high security standards. The bottom is bend inwards in order to resist the pressure in a more effective way.
How to recycle?
Aerosol containers are manufactured with recyclable materials. A major amount of metal used in the manufacturing comes from these elements.
75% of the containers use tin, 24% aluminium and less than 1% are made of plastics or glass, according to international studies on environmental impact.
In the European Union (EU), for instance, around a thousand million aerosols are recycled through different methods and manners.
In fact, the EU recommends the recycling of all type of aerosols as a friendly measure with the environment.
The proper treatment of the discarded or empty aerosols consist of separating and treating each component differently.
The components used in a domestic level, such as shaving cream, whipped cream, deodorant, may be put in the metallic and plastic container.
On the other hand, regarding containers partially used or full, it will be appropriate to classify these according to the content.
For this reason, it is essential to read the instructions that appear in the container. The products that are highly flammable should be taken to the recycling points or special waste collection in order to avoid pollution.
What is the current status of the ozone layer?
Although the hole in the ozone layer continues existing, the scientific community is optimistic and considers that the size will decrease.
The ozone is a colourless gas which shapes a layer in the atmosphere. The latter absorbs the harmful substances from sunlight, such as ultraviolet rays. Thus, it protects us from skin cancer and other diseases, such as cataracts.
However, in the last 100 years, the human action has caused the beginning of the depletion of the ozone layer, to such an extent that in the 1980s, it caused a global alarm because an immense hole in the South Pole was identified.
After 33 years of the Montreal Protocol signature, it is interesting to know the status of the ozone layer. According to the last study from the NASA, in September 2018, the size of the hole is 23 million square kilometres.
Despite this alarming fact, the density of ozone in the atmosphere of the planet is fairly constant and it has only decrease 2% from 2016. Although it is not the most encouraging scenario, there is a decrease in the gas concentration that deteriorates the ozone. This is good news. In 2070, scientists foresee a depletion of the hole to the levels in 1980.
The protection of the ozone layer in Spain
Spain is a step ahead in the protection of the ozone layer. The UN honoured Spain in 2017 with the Ozone Awards, in recognition of the exemplary projects that has undertaken to replace the use of substances that damages or depletes this layer.
The UN honour one country per region, and this time Spain has been recognised in Europe. Although the nation was established at the beginning of the century as one of the largest consumers of methyl bromide (extremely damaging to the atmosphere), the consumption was eradicated in 2008 and the developments were shared and applied in different countries in Latin America.
Contact Aerosol Xiomara
In our 40 years of history and commitment, our company Aerosol Xiomara continues to honour their duties, improving and innovating each product of our distinguished customers.
Our aim is to meet all requirements with commitment and timeliness, thanks to our excellent experience. Are you seeking quality in your fillers? Do not hesitate more and please contact us and obtain the best service.
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