Ozone-damaging hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have been considered just as nonbiodegradable as their CFC cousins, now widely used in refrigeration systems. So, they're regarded as only stopgap substitutes for CFCs, which deplete the ozone more rapidly. While CFCs will be phased out by 1996, the Clean Air Act also mandates that HCFCs and HFCs be discontinued by 2015.
However, Envirogen Inc. has found a microorganism that can digest certain HCFCs and HFCs, breaking them down into relatively benign chemicals. Envirogen President Roger J. Colley says his company, based in Lawrenceville, N.J., plans to develop biotech methods both for controlling emissions at production facilities and for cleaning soil or groundwater contamination caused by the chemicals.