Ozone Layer Threatened By Chemicals That Could Delay Its Recovery

First Posted: Jun 28, 2017 06:10 AM EDT

Researchers discovered that the ozone layer is being threatened by chemicals discharged by industries. These include the chemical used for solvents, production of pharmaceuticals and paint removers, among others. This might cause the slowing down of healing of the ozone layer in Antarctica anywhere between 5 and 30 years.

Ryan Hossaini of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom said that as emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-eating chlorine compounds are stopped under the 30-year-old Montreal Protocol, emissions of another chemical known as dichloromethane also referred to as methylene chloride have been increasing. He further said that they are now more than a million tons each year, and concentrations of dichloromethane in the lower atmosphere have been doubled since 2004, as New Scientist noted.

Meanwhile, Robyn Schofield, an environmental scientist at the University of Melbourne, Australia and not involved in the study, described the findings as frightening and a big deal. The ozone layer is also referred to as ozone shield. It is a part of the stratosphere of the planet Earth that absorbs most of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the Sun. It protects the planet Earth from the Sun's radiation.

Ozone layer composes of high concentrations of ozone (O3). The layer is found in the lower portion of the Earth's stratosphere, from about 20 to 30 kilometers above the planet.

Hossaini explained that the increase in emission of the chemicals would likely be due to human sources. The current emissions of dichloromethane are estimated to be about 1 million metric tons per year, according to Science.

So, what will happen if there is a continuous increase of the dichloromethane emissions in the coming years? The analyses suggest that the Antarctic zone will not recover to pre-1980 levels until well after the year 2100. This is not good. Experts urge to regulate substances such as dichloromethane to curb the emissions that affect the ozone layer. 

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