When were CFCs discovered and by whom and what are they like?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were discovered in 1928 by Thomas Midgley, an American engineer looking for a non-toxic refridgerant.  After being used originally as a replacement for things such as ammonia and sulfer dioxide in refridgerators, CFCs were discovered to be useful as a propellant in aersol cans.

CFCs are specifically made up of chlorine, carbon, and flourine atoms.  They are an organic compound and are nontoxic, nonflammable, odorless, and noncorrosive.  They are marketed under the term Freon, and have been used in a wide number of products, such as air conditioning units in cars, propellents in aerosel hair spray and deodorant.

It was in the mid-1970s that scientists began to discover a connection between CFCs and the depletion of the ozone layer.  When the CFCs are absorbed into the atmosphere, they react with ultraviolet light and are broken down.  The break down and release of the chlorine, in particular, is what eats away at the ozone layer.

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