A 12-member group of chemical companies that produces chlorofluorocarbons is stepping up efforts to investigate the environmental impact of their alternative: hydrochloro- fluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons. They are hoping that this research will confirm their initial findings, presented at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi last year, that these alternatives have little significant environmental impact, unlike chlorofluorocarbons, which have been implicated in the destruction of the earth's atmospheric ozone and face a worldwide ban. The group will sponsor $6 million in research at university, government, and independent laboratories over the next three years, while funding a comparable amount for internal research on atmospheric science. Faced with criticism of the long-term use of these replacement chemicals, the companies hope to convince environmentalists and their governments that the chemicals are safe - and to give them guarantees that they will be allowed to sell them long enough to recoup their investments.

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