World Ozone Day: Aerosol from cans sometimes contains ozone-depleting substances; CFCs
The earth’s atmosphere is what makes life on earth possible. This atmosphere protects us from harmful radiations of the Sun and helps maintain the earth’s temperature by trapping some of the heat that enters the atmosphere. The stratosphere holds a very important shield that protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation and only lets in the good rays. This important shield is known as the Ozone Layer.
Ozone layer facts
- 90% of the ozone sits in the stratosphere, and the total mass of the layer is about 3 billion metric tones. Surprisingly, the weight is only 0.00006 of the atmosphere.
- The ozone layer absorbs about 98% of harmful ultraviolet rays. Holes in ozone can cause sunburn, skin cancer, eye damage, and environmental destruction. In-short; life will suffocate without the ozone layer.
- One atom of chlorine can destroy more than 100,000 ozone molecules, eradicating ozone much more quickly than it can be replaced.
- In 1970, scientists discovered that gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners for cooling were creating a hole in the ozone layer.
- In 1985, countries adopted the ‘Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer’, and agreed upon ending the use of ozone-depleting substances after witnessing several catastrophic collapses of lives.
- Without Montreal Protocol in 1987, the U.S. would have seen an additional 280 million cases of skin cancer, 1.5 million skin cancer deaths, and 45 million cataracts—and the world would be at least 25 percent hotter.
Ways to protect the ozone layer
Governments along with companies and scientists are working on climate-friendly alternatives, including new coolants and technologies that reduce or eliminate dependence on chemicals. But how common people can contribute to the ozone layer to recover and continue protection from UV radiation.
Here are some steps to take on an individual level—
- Get your electric appliances serviced regularly and discard them if they are 10/15 years old.
- Be careful while disposing of electric appliances as their cooling circuit contains the Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS).
- Dispose ODS contained old insulation foams as environmentally hazardous waste.
- The old ODS from refrigerators and air conditioners need to be properly recovered and recycled by a technician to ensure that it is not released into the atmosphere.
- Opt for ‘Energy Star’ labels when purchasing electric appliances.
- Conserve energy by switching off all electronics when not needed.
- Avoid traveling by personal cars whenever possible, instead, use public transport, carpooling, cycling, and walking.
- Follow proper gasoline refueling instructions, be careful not to spill fuel, and always tighten the gas cap properly after refueling.
- Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products as much as possible.
- Minimize the use of cosmetics, hair sprays, room fresheners as they contain Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).