Researchers have discovered the most destructive anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) known to man. The molecule known as perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA) can stay in the atmosphere for up to 500 hundred. According to research published in the Geophysical Research Letters on November 27th 2013, PFTBA was discovered by researchers at the University of Toronto.
Five U of T chemists developed a method of testing the air using a special chamber. The chemical was first used in the mid-1900s in electrical equipment and continues to be used for electronic testing and in heat transfer agents.
While carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most common GHG, its atmospheric life
span is dwarfed by PFTBA which is a 7,100 times more potent climate
change causing molecule than CO2. The researchers found an average of
0.18 parts per trillion of PFTBA in the Toronto air samples. There are
around 400 parts per million of atmospheric carbon.
While their is far less PFTBA in the atmosphere than CO2, it is far more
potent. The combination of its long life and the finding that PFTBA is
the most radiative efficient chemical ever found, make it the most
destructive GHG known to man.
What is even more disconcerting is the possibility that there may be other similarly destructive undiscovered compounds in the atmosphere. “There may be similar compounds out there that have yet to be discovered,” said Angela Hong, a PhD student who helped research the new study
While only a few companies still produce PFTBA, there are currently no rules or regulations for the manufacture or use of PFTBA. Sadly political leaderships are slow to embrace such research findings. “The science really isn’t informing the policy,” Hong said. “Until now, maybe. We’ll see.”
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
The Dangerous Trajectory of CO2 Growth Since the 1880’s
C02 Concentrations are the Highest in 3 Million Years
The Safe Upper Limit of Atmospheric Carbon is 350 PPM
Arctic Monitoring Stations Report High Levels of CO2
Melting Arctic Ice is Releasing Massive Amounts of Methane
Debunking CO2 Myths and The Science of Climate Change
Primer on CO2 and Other GHGs
The Green Economy is the Right Solution for our Troubled Times
Action on Climate Change
The Effects of Global Warming