Skip to content

How decaf coffee destroyed the ozone layer, you monsters

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
6/27/2017 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (

Decaf coffee is part of the reason why the ozone layer has been depleted.

What kind of monster drinks decaffeinated coffee? The kind that wants to destroy the Earth, according to research that says our love of decaf has also damaged the ozone layer.

Apparently decaf coffee is partly responsible for ozone depletion.

Apparently decaf coffee is partly responsible for ozone depletion.


By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Catholic Online (
6/27/2017 (2 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: coffee, decaffinated, ozone, layer, dichloromethane

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- Decaffeinated coffee has never made sense to those of us who rely on caffeine to get going in the morning. However, it has been a popular choice for over a century. During the 1970s, coffee was decaffeinated with the solvent, dichloromethane (DCM). It turns out, that chemical depletes the ozone layer. A new study reveals that its use in the 1970s has set back recovery of the ozone layer by at least 30 years.

The discovery is important not just because it allows those of us who consume caffeine to look down at those who choose decaf, but it also explains why the ozone layer may be in such poor shape.

The ozone layer is a layer of the atmosphere which is rich in ozone, a form of oxygen made of three molecules. Ozone helps block harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching the Earth's surface where we live. Ultraviolet (UV) rays are responsible for damaging cells in the human body, causing sunburn and even cancer.

Chemicals like DCM also bind with ozone and prevent the gas from effectively blocking UV radiation.

Coffee producers soaked beans in DCM which caused the beans to become decaffeinated without losing flavor. The chemical was also used in a number of other solvents and cleaning agents. By the end of the 1970s however, DCM joined a list of other chemical agents that were found to cause cancer. Coffee producers quickly eliminated the chemical from their production processes. It is no longer used to decaffeinate coffee.

In the 1980s, chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, were found to also deplete the ozone layer. These chemicals were banned by UN agreement in 1987, but DCM was not because it does not linger in the atmosphere as CFCs do. Since the banning of the CFCs, the ozone layer has started to recover. However, a major reason why it has not recovered is the continued use of DCM. The use of DCM in some applications is on the rise, and this is delaying ozone recovery.

The ozone layer is repairing itself and should be back to normal by 2046 and 2055. However, the continued use of DCM in some applications means it will take longer for the ozone layer to repair.

It is possible that additional regulation will have to be considered to regulate the use of DCM, particularly if DCM use becomes more widespread. While it will never again be used in food products, it will have a host of other industrial applications that makes it a threat to ozone recovery.

There are no plans as of yet to restrict the use of DCM. And we still don't understand why anyone would choose decaf.


More Green

We knew it was going to happen: scientists call for population control to solve global warming Watch

Image of

I have written extensively on the topic of global warming for Catholic Online. I accept the scientific consensus that the problem is real, ... continue reading

California earthquake early warning system arrives on anniversary of 1989 quake Watch

Image of The 1989 Loma Prieta or World Series Quake caused major damage and 63 fatalities. Most of the fatalities occurred when the upper section of the 880 freeway collapsed onto the lower one, smashing cars.

Until today, Californians have lived without the slightest warning of a major quake. Now, on the 30-year anniversary of the 1989 "World ... continue reading

Making a Difference: 'Season of Creation'

Image of Pray, plant trees, research ways your house and parish can go green!

It's good, it's wise and it sounds so nice: "Season of Creation" -- a time for us to stop taking the wonderful God-given gift of creation ... continue reading

Bolsonaro nervous about Pope Francis' synod Watch

Image of Pope Francis' upcoming synod will focus world attention on the Amazon once again in October.

Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro is concerned about Pope Francis' upcoming Synod for the Amazon. Bolsonaro is concerned that the synod's ... continue reading

Earth's lungs are burning, and soon ours will too Watch

Image of Smoke from the fires in the Amazon has turned day into night in Sao Paulo, and forced President Bolosonaro to take action.

Some environmentalists say the Amazon rainforest is the lungs of planet Earth. At this time, those lungs are burning, and soon ours will ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.