IRVINE, Calif. -- Chemicals that are eating a hole in the Earth's protective ozone layer are still being released into the air at a record level despite international agreements to phase out their use, says the scientist who first spotted the phenomenon 17 years ago.
F. Sherwood Rowland, a University of California scientist who discovered the link between chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, and the ozone layer, has released the results of tests that show emission of the chemicals reached a record high this year and are growing.
"The striking thing is that we haven't seen the fall-off yet," Rowland said yesterday.
Rowland had predicted that a slight drop might occur next year, but he warned that the worst is yet to come for the expanding hole in the ozone shield because of the delayed reaction of the chemicals. The hole in the ozone layer -- which protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation -- is expected to continue to expand until at least 2010, even if controls now in place are effective.
The world's major industrialized nations have agreed to cut use of CFCs 20 percent by 1993, and 50 percent by 1995, eliminating them by 2000.
Rowland said the past five years have been the worst in history when it comes to the increase in CFCs entering the atmosphere.