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50 Years Ago

Freon: Destroying the ozone layer?

Scientists discovered in the 1970s that chlorofluorocarbons such as Freon were hurting Earth’s ozone layer.

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10:21am, June 3, 2011

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September 21, 1974 | Vol. 106 | No. 12

Freon: Destroying the ozone layer?

A fascinating paradox has surfaced regarding man, ozone and the atmos­phere that adds an ironic twist to the story of technological advancement. Researchers have noted during the past two decades that nitrous oxides and hydrocarbon pollutants building up in the lower atmosphere are acted upon by sunlight to produce ozone (O3). High levels of ozone, in turn, cause respiratory problems and kill plants.

Now, it seems, Freon and other fluoro­carbon pollutants in the upper atmosph

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