Frank Sherwood Rowland, who helped explain how synthetic chemicals degrade the atmosphere's ozone layer, was born on this day
in 1927. Rowland, a chemist at the University of California, Irvine, and Mario Molina of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology theorized in 1974 that chlorofluorocarbon gases (CFCs), when struck by sunlight, could decompose to ozone-eating chlorine and chlorine monoxide. Two years later, the National Academy of Sciences agreed, and by 1978 the U.S. government had ordered a ban on CFC-based aerosol sprays. That measure was not in time to stop the annual deterioration of Earth's protective ozone shield. First sighted over Antarctica in the mid-1980s, the so-called ozone hole led to an international ban on CFCs in 1987. Rowland, Molina, and Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute in Mainz, Germany, shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this research in 1995.
[Source: Britannica Online]