The Discovery of Chlorofluorocarbons and their Detrimental Effect upon the Ozone Layer of the Earth

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The Discovery of Chlorofluorocarbons and their Detrimental Effect upon the Ozone Layer of the Earth
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius

“Thomas Midgley Jr., a brilliant chemist, developed a chemical which would inevitably threaten all life on planet Earth. During the 1920’s, chemistry began discovering new ways of resolving old problems (e.g. creating refrigerants to replace ice boxes etc.). Early refrigerators used dangerous gasses which could kill in the event of a leak. Scientists wanted to create a non-toxic, non- explosive, non-flammable chemical which could refrigerate food and Midgley himself was assigned to work upon this problem. Midgley developed a group of chemicals referred to as “chlorofluorocarbons”, (pronounced “clor-oh-flor-oh-car-bons”) most commonly associated with the brand name “Freon”.

Chlorofluorocarbons are harmless to human beings and allowed for refrigerators to become safe, effective, and more cost effective than before. During an American Chemical Society meeting, Midgley famously inhaled chlorofluorocarbons and then blew out a candle to demonstrate just how safe the chemical truly was. This dramatic demonstration of his invention being non-toxic and non-flammable helped promote the idea of the usage of chlorofluorocarbons in every day life.

Chlorofluorocarbons are incredibly versatile, and were used as non-flammable propellant for insecticides during World War II. This caused chlorofluorocarbons to rapidly become utilized for their propellant properties in a myriad of different applications (e.g. hair spray, deodorant, perfume etc.).

During the 1960’s, British scientist Jim Lovelock believed the air around his country home to be polluted due to a dense haze which filled the air during the summer, whenever the wind traveled from the east in Europe. This haze looked and had the scent of smog in Los Angeles, United States of America. Lovelock invented a highly sensitive instrument to detect minuscule quantities of chemicals, and put it to use looking for signs of human created gasses within the atmosphere around his country estate. Lovelock found chlorofluorocarbons in the winds traveling in from the most populated areas of Europe but also found them in the air found at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Lovelock developed a plan to embark upon a scientific expedition and traveled to”

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