“Did You Know?” will be a monthly feature that shares information on various topics that affect our Common Home, such as plastics, aerosols, water, compost, etc. This feature will address and offer a challenge pertaining to the following Laudato Si’ Goals:

  1. Response to the cry of the Earth
  2. Adoption of a simple lifestyle
  3. Ecological education
  4. Community engagement and participatory action

What Effects Do Aerosol Cans Have On the Environment?

It has long been said that aerosol cans have the adverse effect on the environment. Aerosol cans include a can of spray paint, hair spray, insecticides, deodorants, or whipped cream. During the 1970s, there was a widespread campaign against chlorofluorocarbons in aerosols, stating that they affected the ozone layer. This lead to the official ban on the use of chlorofluorocarbons in the US with only a few exceptions in certain medical applications such as asthma inhalers. However, the use of chlorofluorocarbons in inhalers and other medical applications was eventually banned in 2008. Although chlorofluorocarbons are no longer used, aerosol cans are still not beneficial to the environmental since they are among the many products that play a significant role in smog problems and contributing to global warming.

Environmental Effects of Aerosol Cans

It is estimated that phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons now stand at 90%, implying that the 10% are still causing damage to the environment. The small percentage is mainly found in developing countries. Even in countries where they have been banned entirely, they have been replaced by propellants containing hydrocarbons, which still contribute to the global warming. The modern CFC-free aerosols still emit the volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which still affect the ozone and the environment. The VOCs are the primary component of the asthma-inducing smog. Besides, the propellants in aerosol cans are highly flammable when in contact with fire and can cause explosions and start fires. Empty aerosol cans are considered as hazardous waste in the US.

Challenge: Buy alternative products such as pump sprays.

Information from World Atlas