Since the 1960's halons, and especially Halon 1301 (CBrF3) have been widely used as fire extinguishing agents and well known for its low toxicity and high efficiency, the latter being accounted to the bromine content.
Nevertheless, as bromine, like chlorine, is responsible for depleting the protective stratospheric ozone, the manufacture, sale and use of halons have been regulated under the terms of the Montreal Protocol.
While the production of halons has already been banned, the usage of halons in hand-held fire extinguishers and total flooding systems has been forbidden in the European Community since 2003 (EC Regulation2037/2000). Since the beginning of 2004 the use of halons is only permitted for critical applications with an exemption license and the refilling of halon containing systems is prohibited.
Accordingly, new systems based on nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide were launched. These standard fire extinguishers operating with powder, water or carbon dioxide are becoming increasingly more used, plus, for special applications, the new generation hydrofluorocarbon fire extinguishing agents HFC 125 (pentafluoroethane) and HFC 227 (heptafluoropropane) were launched. Specifically, replacements for Halon 1301, requiring comparable extinguishing concentrations, exhibiting similar suitable toxicity profiles at used concentrations, and providing universal handling possibilities.