Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are man-made organic compounds that contain fluorine and hydrogen atoms, and are the most common type of organofluorine compounds. Most are gases at room temperature and pressure. They are frequently used in air conditioning and as refrigerants; R-134a is one of the most commonly used HFC refrigerants. In order to aid the recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer, HFCs were adopted to replace the more potent chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which were phased out from use by the Montreal protocol and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that are presently being phased out.[1] HFCs replaced older chlorofluorocarbons such as R-12 and hydrochlorofluorocarbons such as R-21.[2] HFCs are also used in insulating foams, aerosol propellants, as solvents and for fire protection.

They do not harm the ozone layer as much as the compounds they replace, but they do contribute to global warming, with trifluoromethane having 11,700 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.[3] Their atmospheric concentrations and contribution to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly increasing[quantify], causing international concern about their radiative forcing.

One example is 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane.


Fluorocarbons with few C–F bonds behave similarly to the parent hydrocarbons, but their reactivity can be altered significantly. For example, both uracil and 5-fluorouracil are colourless, high-melting crystalline solids, but the latter is a potent anti-cancer drug. The use of the C-F bond in pharmaceuticals is predicated on this altered reactivity.[4] Several drugs and agrochemicals contain only one fluorine center or one trifluoromethyl group.

Environmental regulationEdit

Unlike other greenhouse gases in the Paris Agreement, hydrofluorocarbons are included in other international negotiations.[5]

In September 2016, the New York Declaration on Forests urged a global reduction in the use of HFCs.[6] On 15 October 2016, due to these chemicals' contribution to climate change, negotiators from 197 nations meeting at a summit of the United Nations Environment Programme in Kigali, Rwanda reached a legally-binding accord (the Kigali Amendment) to phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in an amendment to the Montreal Protocol.[7][8][9] The US has yet to ratify the Kigali Agreement.[10] As of February 2020, 16 U.S. states ban or are phasing out HFCs.[11]

COVID-19 relief legislation, which included a measure that would require chemical manufacturers to phase down the production and use of HFCs, was passed by the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate on December 21, 2020.[12] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed a final rule phasing down HFCs on 23 September, 2021.[13]


  1. ^ Zaelke, Durwood; Borgford-Parnell, Nathan; Andersen., Stephen (11 January 2018). "Primer on HFCs" (PDF). Kristin Campbell, Xiaopu Sun, Dennis Clare,Claire Phillips, Stela Herschmann, Yuzhe PengLing, Alex Milgroom, Nancy J. Sherman. Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development (IGSD): 5. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Milman, Oliver (22 September 2016). "100 countries push to phase out potentially disastrous greenhouse gas". The Guardian. London, UK. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  3. ^ Han, Wenfeng; Li, Ying; Tang, Haodong; Liu, Huazhang (2012). "Treatment of the potent greenhouse gas, CHF3—An overview". Journal of Fluorine Chemistry. 140: 7–16. doi:10.1016/j.jfluchem.2012.04.012.
  4. ^ G. Siegemund, W. Schwertfeger, A. Feiring, B. Smart, F. Behr, H. Vogel, B. McKusick "Fluorine Compounds, Organic" in "Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry" 2005, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a11_349
  5. ^ Davenport, Carol (23 July 2016). "A Sequel to the Paris Climate Accord Takes Shape in Vienna". New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  6. ^ "The New York Declaration of the Coalition to Secure an Ambitious HFC Amendment". Washington, DC: US Department of State. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  7. ^ Johnston, Chris; Milman, Oliver; Vidal, John (15 October 2016). "Climate change: global deal reached to limit use of hydrofluorocarbons". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Climate change: 'Monumental' deal to cut HFCs, fastest growing greenhouse gases". BBC News. 15 October 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Nations, Fighting Powerful Refrigerant That Warms Planet, Reach Landmark Deal". New York Times. 15 October 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  10. ^ Drew Kann, CNN Video by Lacey Russell and Alex King. "Trump's rollback of climate change regulations will be felt far beyond his presidency". CNN. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  11. ^ Baker Administration Planning Rule To Ban Hydrofluorocarbons
  12. ^ Davenport, Coral (2020-12-22). "Congress included climate change legislation in its coronavirus relief deal". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  13. ^ Volcovici, Valerie (2021-09-23). "Biden administration takes aim at climate warming gas". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2021-09-23.