An environmental group warned yesterday that products containing a chemical called 1,1,1,-trichloroethane are damaging the ozone shield that protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet rays, and it urged the Bush administration to support international efforts to phase out its use.
Although both House and Senate versions of proposed Clean Air Act legislation would phase out production of the chemical, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said it was publicizing a list of products containing 1,1,1 both to aid consumers and to push for the fastest phase-out possible. A survey of Washington-area grocery stores conducted by the group found that the chemical is contained in 141 consumer products, including contact cements, Scotchgard water and stain repellents, products that dry nail polish, hair color sprays, pesticide sprays, suede cleaners and water repellents for shoes.
Three manufacturers -- Dow Chemical Co., PPG Industries Inc. and Vulcan Chemical -- produced approximately 724 million pounds of the chemical in 1988, according to the NRDC.
Steve Risotto, a spokesman for the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance, which represents both producers and users, said the industry needs time to find a substitute that has the same array of benefits. "It has been the solvent of choice in many applications" because of its nonflammable, nontoxic nature and the fact that it does not contribute to smog, he said.
The Senate has voted to eliminate production of 1,1,1,-trichloroethane in the United States by the year 2000, while the House bill would allow production to continue to 2005.
NRDC's David D. Doniger and Deborah A. Sheiman said that 1,1,1,-trichloroethane is less potent than other ozone-depleting chemicals, but it is produced in higher volume. Most of the concern about chemicals destroying the ozone layer has focused on chlorofluorocarbons and halons.