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Chemist Who Warned Of Ozone ‘Hole’ Dies

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Unread 03.12.12, 03:37 PM
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Chemist Who Warned Of Ozone ‘Hole’ Dies

03.12.12 11:46 AM

CORONA DEL MAR, Calif. (UPI) — F. Sherwood Rowland, a Nobel-prize winning chemist who first warned man-made chemicals could erode the ozone layer, has died in California, officials said.

Officials at the University of California, Irvine, where Rowland worked and taught since the campus opened in 1965, said he died Saturday at his home in Corona del Mar of complications from Parkinson’s disease, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In 1995 Rowland was one of three people awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for work on chlorofluorocarbons, ubiquitous substances once used in products from spray deodorant to industrial solvents, that were found capable of destroying the ozone layer, the atmospheric region that protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

His pioneering work lead to an international treaty banning chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, in 1987.

As early as 1973, Rowland and his research colleagues realized the chemicals were involved in a chemical reaction causing a depletion of atmospheric ozone.

That finding was initially met with scorn by the chemical industry and even by many scholars, and it took nearly 15 years for the international scientific community and chemical industry to accept them, difficult years in which Rowland and fellow researchers often faced hostile audience while presenting their research at scientific conferences.

“He was the perfect spokesperson for this issue,” Donald Blake, a chemistry professor at UC Irvine who worked closely with Rowland for more than two decades, said. “He was austere, well-spoken and had a lot of confidence.

“He didn’t get emotional” when challenged, Blake said.

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