Balancing halons’ values with its dangers

Issue 9 and Volume 140.

Balancing halons’ values with its dangers DEPARTMENTS Dispatches There’s a dilemma facing the National Fire Protection Association concerning halon extinguishing agents. The agents, Halon 1211 and Halon 1301, are essential to extinguishing fires in high-tech electronic environments such as computer rooms and telecommunications centers. This includes facilities used in maintaining the national defense. The problem is that halon wreaks havoc with the earth’s ozone layer, the level of the stratosphere that protects humans and other life forms from ultraviolet radiation. According to an official of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Halon 1301 consumes 11.4 times as much ozone as do chlorofluorcarbons, which the federal government banned in 1978 from use in aerosol cans. Thus, the NFPA says it’s looking for ways to solve the problem—to safeguard the environment while continuing reliance on these important firefighting tools. The association says it has already taken several steps toward a better understanding of…

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