Antarc­tic ozone layer grad­u­ally heal­ing – Sci­en­tists

Daily Trust - - ENVIRONMENT - By Chidimma C. Okeke

A new re­port re­leased last week has dis­closed that the Antarc­tic ozone layer, which shields the earth from harm­ful ul­tra­vi­o­let rays, shows en­cour­ag­ing signs that it is be­gin­ning to heal.

The re­port, pub­lished in the Jour­nal Sci­ence, noted that sci­en­tists credit the heal­ing to an in­ter­na­tional pol­icy set nearly three decades ago that cut the pro­duc­tion of ozone-de­stroy­ing chem­i­cals.

The agree­ment, the 1987 Mon­treal Pro­to­col on Sub­stances that De­plete the Ozone Layer, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, called for the phase-out of sub­stances in­clud­ing chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bons and halons, once present in re­frig­er­a­tors, aerosol cans and dry clean­ing chem­i­cals. “The ozone layer is ex­pected to re­cover in re­sponse, al­beit very slowly,” wrote the re­searchers in the study.

Pro­fes­sor Su­san Solomon of the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, who led the in­ter­na­tional team of re­searchers, in a state­ment said: “We can now be con­fi­dent that the things we’ve done have put the planet on a path to heal. “We de­cided col­lec­tively, as a world, ‘Let’s get rid of these mol­e­cules’. We got rid of them, and now we’re see­ing the planet re­spond,” she said.

The ozone layer, a frag­ile shield of gas, pro­tects an­i­mal and plant life on earth from pow­er­ful UV rays. When the ozone layer is weak­ened, more UV rays can get through and af­fect hu­mans, mak­ing them prone to skin can­cer, cataracts and other diseases. There also may be con­se­quences for plant life, in­clud­ing lower crop yields and dis­rup­tions in the ocean’s food chain.

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