On October 11, 1995, Mario Molina, Sherwood Rowland, and Paul Crutzen won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work demonstrating that gases known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are eating away Earth's ozone layer.

CFC gases were used for years in refrigerators and spray cans, among other products. In the 1970s, Molina and Rowland published a scientific paper proving that CFCs were responsible for reducing the protective layer of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere. As the ozone layer disappears, more ultraviolet radiation from the sun can reach the surface of Earth. This radiation causes harmful sun damage to organism—from plants to people.

Because of Molina and Rowland’s work, fewer and fewer CFC gases are being used throughout the world. Considerable damage has been done to Earth’s ozone layer, however. The annual thinning of the ozone layer (sometimes called the “ozone hole”) around Antarctica means that people living at far southern latitudes, such as New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina, must protect themselves against the dangerous radiation that can now reach the Earth’s surface in higher quantities.




layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body.


to show how something is done.


state of matter with no fixed shape that will fill any container uniformly. Gas molecules are in constant, random motion.


distance north or south of the Equator, measured in degrees.


form of oxygen that absorbs ultraviolet radiation.


layer in the atmosphere containing the gas ozone, which absorbs most of the sun's ultraviolet radiation.

ultraviolet radiation

powerful light waves that are too short for humans to see, but can penetrate Earth's atmosphere. Ultraviolet is often shortened to UV.

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