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Pure Appl. Chem. Vol. 68, No. 9, pp. 1749-1756 (1996)
The Role of Chlorine in
(Departments of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and Chemistry,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA)
The chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are industrial
chemicals used as solvents, refrigerants, plastic foam blowing agents,
etc. These compounds are eventually released to the environment; they
slowly drift into the stratosphere, where they decompose, initiating
a catalytic process involving chlorine free radicals and leading to
ozone destruction. The stratospheric ozone layer is important for the
earth's energy budget, and it shields the surface of the earth from
ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Very significant depletion of the
ozone layer has been observed in the spring months over Antarctica during
the last 10-15 years. Laboratory experiments, model calculations and
field measurements, which include several aircraft expeditions, have
yielded a wealth of information which clearly points to the CFCs as
the main cause of this depletion.
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