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Mario Molina, the ozone layer saviour, dies

Mario Molina (right) pictured with AREA president Marco Buoni

MEXICO: Dr Mario Molina, who played a pivotal role in the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole and identified the threat from CFC refrigerants, has died. He was 77.

While at the University of California in 1974, Molina and F Sherwood Rowland first published a paper in Nature magazine highlighting the threat of CFCs to the ozone layer in the stratosphere.

The pair, along with Paul Crutzen of the Max Plank Institute for Chemistry, were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995 for their research.

Molina and Rowland realised that while CFCs were inert at lower levels of the atmosphere, they break down in the stratosphere when exposed to the sun’s UV light. 

Their research led to the international Montreal Protocol agreement in 1987 and the phase out of CFCs, gases that were commonly used as refrigerants and foam propellants.

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