End of the Road for Halon Fire Extinguishers

  Halon is effective, fairly inexpensive, and non-toxic. But it's a bromofluorocarbon, a close relation to the disreputable chlorofluocarbon [CFC] family of chemicals that is implicated, in depletion of the ozone layer that protects the planet from excessive ultraviolet radiation. Halon is several times more ozone-destructive than its Freon refrigerant cousins, which explains why it was the first to be banned-by international treaty. Halon Will be gone after this year.

  Several environmentally friendlier alternatives to Halon are being: readied. Some companies will use DuPont FE241, a hydro-chlorofluocarbon. Some will use combinations :of: atmospheric gases (nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide, for example) And still other compounds used overseas are being considered. It appears that there will be several competitive products to replace Halon. All are now being tested and rated for effectiveness  and environmental approval.

  All of the agents under consideration will require greater quantities, are more expensive, and in involve higher working pressure than Halon. So whatever happens,  something's seem certain Extinguisher will be bigger, heavier, and more expensive. How much so remains to be seen but substantially" is a safe bet.

  In the mean time, Halon extinguishers in use will not be recalled, and extinguishers in dealer inventory can continue to be sold, although we'd expect them to disappear rapidly. Industrial stocks of Halon can continue to be used after January 1 to make new extinguishers but a harsh new tax of $43.50 per pound will probably mean few will want to keep the stuff around. That will certainly impact the cost and availability of Halon for maintaining extinguishers now in use.

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