Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Expanding CAPCO Educational Messages through New Channels

As part of CAPCO’s mission to provide accurate information about aerosol products, one of its key target audiences is teachers.  In addition to attending the National Science Teachers Association annual conference each year where CAPCO reaches thousands of teachers with its messaging about recycling aerosol product containers, the technology used in aerosols and correcting any dated misconceptions about aerosol products and the environment, CAPCO also supports other groups as well.

Women in Science:

The Oklahoma Women in Science Conference is free to all participants and features many speakers
and hands on activities for approximately 500 girls and their 90 teachers to encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).   Research shows (link to source) only 15% of incoming coming college freshmen women intend to pursue a major in STEM as compared to 30% of men. Keeping Math & Science at the forefront for all students is important to maintain a high level of product innovation in the aerosol products industry as well as important for our workforce as a whole to stay at the leading edge of innovation.

Percentage of Employed STEM Professionals Who Are Women, Selected Professions, 2008

Women are clearly a minority in STEM focused studies and careers and CAPCO was pleased to support the Oklahoma Women in Science Conference by sending full-color flyers highlighting all of its web-based educational resources, a hand-out on Recycling Facts and was also listed on the conference’s wiki space.  Dr. Theresa Cullen, Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at University of Oklahoma and key organizer for the event, finds value in giving the students a broad perspective on issues and strives to include materials both from regulatory bodies as well as from industry.

Chilean Chamber of Aerosol Products:

The Chilean Chamber of Aerosol Products has begun an outreach program to help educate Chilean students about aerosol product technology, recycling aerosol cans and aerosols and the environment.  As part of their outreach efforts, they are having the “Another Amazing Aerosol Adventure”  educational video professionally translated into Spanish.  This will be a great opportunity not only for the Chilean Chamber of Aerosol Products to reach out in Chile, but also for CAPCO to reach more of the Spanish speaking market in the U.S. and other Spanish speaking countries.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let’s Be Clear about Today’s Aerosol Products and the Ozone

A recent study has been causing some more confusion about aerosol products. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-led study published on October 2nd reported higher than normal levels of ozone depletion in the Arctic. Traditionally, most of the ozone depletion to date has been tracked in the colder Antarctic.

The primary driver of the ozone loss was colder than average temperatures. The very low temperatures allow chemical reactions with man-made chlorine-based chemicals to take place in the stratosphere that deplete the ozone. However, many of the articles that reference the study, incorrectly blame the use of aerosol products without clarifying that that today’s aerosol products no longer contain the chlorine-based chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and have not in the U.S. since 1978!

While it is true that the chlorine-based chemicals have a long atmospheric lifetime, most of that used 30-50 years ago is no longer in the atmosphere... Today’s aerosol products in the U.S., European Union, and most countries in the developed world no longer have any CFCs, so consumers can continue to use them without concern of adverse effects on the ozone.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What Does “Ozone Warning Day” Mean?

It’s summer time and there are many “Ozone Warning Days” that you might see communicated on the local news, on the radio, or even on highways. Since there is a lot of confusion around the term ozone, we wanted to explain the differences between the two types of ozone.

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says, ozone is "good up high, bad nearby" what the agency is referring to is Upper Ozone and Ground Level Ozone.

Upper Ozone - or stratospheric ozone, is a particularly active form of oxygen, which filters out much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. This ozone layer surrounds the earth high up in the stratosphere. Some stories on stratospheric ozone wrongly advise against using aerosol products. Back in the 1970’s scientists discovered that chemicals called CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons) were contributing to the depletion of the upper ozone, subsequently; CFCs were banned from consumer aerosol products in 1978, and US aerosol products have not contributed to ozone depletion for over 30 years.

Ground Level Ozone – or tropospheric ozone, is a component of “smog” and can be unhealthy for inhabitants when levels exceed EPA standards. Smog formation requires three ingredients:

1) Sunlight;

2) Nitrogen oxides, which come mostly from anthropogenic (man-made) sources such as automobile exhaust and power plants; and

3) Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), about half of which are naturally occurring and half man-made. "Volatile" means evaporating, and virtually anything that gives off an odor or quickly evaporates into the air is a source of VOCs.

According to the weather section on USATODAY.com this chemical process is describe as such:

When you burn gasoline in a car, a truck, or even a gasoline lawn mower, the stuff coming out of the exhaust pipe includes nitrogen oxides, which are gases. Each nitrogen dioxide molecule is made of one atom of nitrogen and two atoms of oxygen. On a sunny day, air containing nitrogen dioxide turns into a chemistry experiment that's not confined to a test tube.

One of the things that happens is the nitrogen-dioxide sheds one of its oxygen atoms, becoming nitrogen oxide. You can think of single oxygen atoms being lonely and hyperactive (if you like to think of things like atoms in this way.) The single oxygen atoms combine with some of the air's molecular oxygen (consisting of two oxygen atoms), becoming ozone.

Some smog alerts wrongly advise against using consumer products such as aerosol products. The EPA estimates that of the major man-made sources of VOCs, 58 percent are from industrial facilities, 37 percent are from vehicle emissions and 5 percent are from consumer products. The portion of these consumer products packaged in aerosol containers accounts for only a fraction of the 5 percent, and that tiny portion is largely composed of the least reactive—or least smog- forming—type of VOCs.

So, on a hot, sunny day, those ozone warnings are alerting you that air quality may be low and also accurately encouraging you to limit the activities that contribute to worsening the air quality.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Disney Makes Good

Sometimes in the world of entertainment mistakes happen. And it should not be a surprise that one might find good intentions behind some of those mistakes. Such was the case involving a children’s program from Disney’s Television Animation division.

CAPCO reached out to Disney regarding the negative slant and inaccuracies geared towards aerosol products in its popular cartoon series “Phineas and Ferb.” While the aerosol industry applauds the effort of using art and entertainment to educate our youth about the importance of protecting the environment, there is reason for alarm when that education is based on bad information.

Recently, CAPCO received a letter back from Disney acknowledging the aerosol industry’s concerns and recognizing the potential reputational harm that the misinformation in the cartoon could cause.

At the center of CAPCO’s concern was the plot of the episode, in which the villain attempted to destroy the ozone using aerosol sprays (today’s aerosol products don’t contain ozone-depleting chemicals, in fact, they have not contained CFCs for more than 30 years). To correct the misinformation and avoid other misunderstandings, Disney indicated that it would modify the episode for future airings by incorporating new dialogue and changing the overall direction to reflect a more positive tone regarding aerosol products.

We are pleased to have received such a positive response from Disney as their programming reaches millions of viewers each year. Bringing this to the attention of Disney helps to ensure that similar misinformation regarding modern day aerosol products is not presented in future episodes of “Phineas and Ferb” and, hopefully, other cartoons on the network. Clearly, Disney values the presentation of accurate information in its programming.

And for that we applaud them.