FAQ About Aerosols and the Ozone

What is an Aerosol Product?

According to The Plain Man’s Guide To Aerosols by Colin Westley, the word “aerosol” refers to: “An integral ready-to-use package incorporating a valve and a product which is dispensed by pre-stored pressure in a controlled manner when the valve is operated.

Do aerosol products harm the environment?

No. Aerosol products do not harm the earth’s ozone layer. Ozone damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were removed from most aerosol products in the early 1970s even before their use in aerosols was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1978.

Do aerosol products contain CFCs or other stratospheric ozone depletors?

Aerosol products in the United States and most other countries contain no CFCs or other stratospheric ozone depletors.

Who invented the aerosol package system?

The modern aerosol package form was developed in stages dating back to 1929 when a Norwegian engineer designed a can and valve aerosol propellant system. In 1942 the U.S. Army developed aerosol spray cans of insect repellents for mosquito-bitten American World War II soldiers. Modern aerosol technology came into being in 1950 when an inventor named Robert H. Abplanalp developed a clog-free spray valve.

Can aerosol cans explode?

Consumer products in the aerosol package form are designed for safe use. It takes temperatures in excess of 130 degrees Fahrenheit to rupture an aerosol can. Any sealed container can burst if enough heat is applied, but product designs include a margin of safety.

Are aerosol cans recyclable?

Yes. More than 5,300 communities include aerosol cans in their recycling programs.

Are aerosol products regulated by the government?

Yes. Aerosol products are strictly regulated for product safety and adequate labeling by various agencies of the U.S. government.

Do aerosol products cause or contribute to asthma?

No. According to a recent review of the scientific literature by the National Academy of Sciences, the only exposures known to cause asthma are house dust mites, cockroaches, cats and environmental tobacco smoke. Other exposures associated with increased asthma are dogs, rhinovirus, molds and nitrogen dioxides. Many aerosol products indeed are designed to lower exposures to these types of biological contaminants.

Do aerosol propellants contribute to global warming?

The primary propellants used in today's aerosols are propane and butane, hydrocarbons that do not contribute significantly to global warming. The carbon dioxide used in some aerosols is taken from the atmosphere, and therefore presents a net zero global warming impact.