The layer, which protects the Earth from the effects of health-damaging solar ultra-violet rays, is under attack from CFC’s (chloro-fluorocarbons). Invented in 1930, the chemycal is commonly used in aerosol sprays and refrigerator coolants. From them it easily released into the atmosphere. In a complicated chemical reaction, ozone molecules are broken down by a CFC’s by-product, chlorine monoxide (CIO), at a rate much faster than the gas is replenished naturally.
To prevent the opening up of a new atmospheric holes, all ozone-destroying chemicals should be phased out or banned. Only ,,environment-friendly” sprays should be used. The public should be encouraged to boycott products in aerosol cans not marked as environment-friendly. There is also an increasing need to aid the so-called Third World countries, both technologically and financially, to switch to safer, hazard-free alternatives. Eco-activists fear, that the action is coming to late. Already 20 million metric tons of CFC’s are estimated to have been released.
The thinning of the ozone shield and the greenhouse efect ( i’ll write about this in my next article), two major environmental problems, are both related to UV rays. UV rays kill sea plankton which soaks up carbon dioxide, thus increasing the ammount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Also, UV rays cause skin cancer and can lessen immunity to such diseases as herpes and malaria. Since skin cancertakes several decades to develope, experts say that it is still unclear how large a role of depletion of the ozone layer will paly in the increasing incidence of the disease. But there is little doubt that the continuing ozone reduction will make people more vulnerable. High-quality sunglasses, which absorb UV radiation and the protect the eyes from the danger of cataracts, have been advised. As the layer thins and more harmful radiation reaches the Earth, avoiding exposure to harmful rays become even more crucial.