Life ZONE and the ozone

The Hindu , Friday, September 16, 2016
Today is World Ozone Day. What can we do to protect the ozone layer?

September 16, 1987 marks an important day in history as the Montreal Protocol was signed. Representatives from 24 countries met in Montreal and announced to the world that it was time to stop destroying the ozone layer. It was under this act that the committee came up with a comprehensive list of substances that deplete the ozone layer. It was decided to celebrate the day as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, a day intended to spread awareness about the depletion of the ozone layer and find solutions to preserve it.

This day, this year

The theme for 2016 is Ozone and Climate: Restored by a World United. The intention is working towards reducing global-warming Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol. The need of the hour is global commitment to combat climate change. According to scientific information, reducing HFCs under the Montreal Protocol can avoid 0.4C of global warming by the end of the century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.

Protective shield

Ozone plays an important role in our atmosphere. It is a thin shield of gas that protects the Earth. It has protected ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth. Though by itself it is very toxic, without it we would not exist. The ozone layer is situated between 10 and 30 km above us in the stratosphere.

What can we do?

Limit private vehicle driving: When there are many cars on the road the emissions from them is high. To reduce this, you could try to organise a car pool system, use public transport, walk or cycle.

Use eco-friendly products: Cleaning agents contain toxic chemicals that interfere with the ozone layer. Switching to natural cleaning materials like vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice will help us save it.

Cultivation: Using pesticides may be an easy solution for getting rid of weed, and pests but are harmful to the ozone layer. The best solution for this would be to try using natural ones like neem, salt spray, citrus oil, Cayenne pepper mix, eucalyptus oil, onion and garlic spray, a mixture of soap, orange citrus oil and water. Try to weed manually or mow your garden consistently to avoid its growth.

Take a minute: Each time you buy household items and things for yourself, make sure to read the labels. Ensure that they do not contain ozone depleting substances such as CFCs or halons and Hydrofluorocarbons. Dispose old refrigerators and other electrical appliances properly. Locate e-waste recyclers near your areas. You could also look up the internet for free pick up and disposal.

Look whos peeping?

It was in the mid 1980s that scientists found out about the depleting ozone layer. A massive hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica was threatening the world and the eco-system by melting its ice. The temperatures in the Antarctic region are cold throughout the year. This caused clouds called Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSC). Gas like chlorine and bromine do not dissolve or burn out leading to the to depletion. Maximum destruction occurs during spring-winter, in the months from August to November. The peak destruction of the ozone layer in this region occurs in October reducing the level of ozone by as much as two-thirds in some locations leading to the formation of the ozone hole. The size of the ozone hole can be as large as Antarctica itself.


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