World Ozone Day: Preserving the Ozone Layer

Ozone Layer Preservation & Awareness.

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, or World Ozone Day for short, takes place every year on September 16th. Its purpose is to raise awareness for ozone layer protection.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are toxins historically found in spray aerosols and have been identified as the primary cause for ozone breakdown. As the chemicals break down in the atmosphere they release chlorine which reacts violently with the ozone layer. A single chlorine atom can destroy up to 1,000 ozone molecules.

Ozone Layer Preservation.

The date was commemorated by the U. N. to coincide with the day when the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987. The initial meeting included 24 nations. Those countries took a bold first step to agree to no longer produce the toxins that were rapidly destroying the ozone layer. Over 150 nations have since signed this landmark agreement.

Why Do We Need the Ozone Layer?

The ozone layer serves as a protective barrier in the upper atmosphere against the sun’s harmful UV radiation. Without that barrier, most life may cease to exist. It became widely understood in the 1980s that the ozone layer had been deteriorating as a direct result of pollution pumped into the atmosphere.

People exposed to the sun’s rays without the protection of the ozone layer would expect to develop accelerated skin cancers and cataracts. More frightening is that if the UV radiation hit the Earth without the protection of the ozone layer, the damage would have the ability to completely wipe out single cell organisms. While this may not seem significant, consider this; that form of life represents the beginning of the food chain. A catastrophic disruption there would mean a similar impact all the way up the food chain.

Nations started to realize how critical the ozone was for life and moved to put a solution into place. That solution was the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer agreement.

Ozone Layer Progress.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has had some success since it was signed. Many of the ozone depleting substances are now banned in many nations – usage has declined globally 80%. Scientists have also identified that the hole in the ozone over the Antarctic is slowly starting to close.

The hole in the ozone may not be fully closed until the year 2100; however, a clear reversal is taking place.

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