Scientists say anti-CFC efforts are helping heal the ozone layer

| 8/5/2003

Turns out all that money truckers invested in environmentally friendly air-conditioner systems has paid off.

The Christian Science Monitor reported recently that the ozone layer in the stratosphere, which shields humans from harmful ultraviolet rays in sunlight, is showing signs of recovery. Years ago, many scientists said that the layer was shrinking, and even identified a hole in the layer centered over Antarctica. Those scientists claim the hole – and the overall shrinkage of the ozone layer – was caused by humans’ use of chlorofluorocarbons, also called CFCs, and other chemicals.

Before 1995, all air-conditioning systems used R-12 refrigerant, also known as Freon. Today, all new vehicles use R-134a, which contains fewer chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) than R-12. Although some older vehicles still on the road use the pre-1995 coolant, even many older vehicles have been converted to use the lower CFC coolant.

The use of CFCs was limited by an international document called The Montreal Protocol in 1987, The Monitor reported.

Michael Newchurch, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, told the newspaper the reversal of ozone layer destruction was "the most significant environmental success story of the 20th century."