A synthetic chemical widely used in the manufacture of computers and flat-screen televisions is a potent greenhouse gas, with 17,000 times the global warming effect of carbon dioxide, but its measure in the atmosphere has never been taken, nor is it regulated by international treaty.
The chemical, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), could be considered the "missing greenhouse gas," atmospheric chemists Michael J. Prather and Juno Hsu of UC Irvine wrote in a paper released June 26 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "With the surge in flat-panel displays, the market for NF3 has exploded." ...
Air Products officials say that about 2% of NF3 is emitted during manufacturing and that much of that is burned off before reaching the atmosphere.
But Prather, a leading author of the influential reports of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cited a study showing that even "under ideal conditions," more than 3% may be emitted. And, he added, "a slippery gas" such as NF3 could easily leak out undetected during manufacture, transport, application or disposal.