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halocarbon An industrial compound containing carbon and a halogen (usually bromine, chlorine, or fluorine) which is commonly used in fire extinguishers. Halocarbons absorb long-wave electromagnetic radiation (i.e. they are greenhouse gases) and, because of their chemical stability, they survive in the atmosphere long enough to enter the stratosphere, where they are decomposed by ultraviolet radiation, releasing by-products that are implicated in the thinning of the ozone layer. See also chlorofluorocarbon.