New ozone threat:small but deadly

By Paul Robinson - 11 Mar 2014 10:45:0 GMT
New ozone threat:small but deadly

This attractive map contrasts the left industrial side of our planet with the natural healthy right side. I don't believe there is any ozone remaining on the left; Earth image; Credit: © Shutterstock

4 newly discovered CFCs are responsible for an enormous threat to the ozone layer. They are CFC-112, CFC112a, CFC-113a and HCFC-133a, discovered from sampling Arctic snow and unpolluted air samples from Cape Grim, Tasmania. This checks which atmospheric changes have taken place since we last banned 13 CFCs and HCFCs with the highly successful Montreal Protocol agreed in 1987.

Johannes C Lauber of the University of East Anglia and her colleagues dig the dirt on these polluting substances in their paper, published in Nature Geoscience. 74,000 tonnes of the 4 compounds were liberated before 2012, which is less than the 20th century CFC emission but the production must be stopped, as 2 of these substances are accumulating up there.

The key is the sources of these "new" compounds. While 2 of them may have stopped production, that 15-30 km layer of ozone above us will disappear if we don't stop CFCs from accelerating its breakdown. And the result of the loss of our ozone layer. Ultraviolet rays from the sun have a similar effect on life to cosmic rays. They cause rapid mutation in DNA, leading to skin cancers and much worse.

The likely culprits for these new compounds are substances involved in producing pyrethrum-related insecticides, refrigerants, cleaning aerosols and cosmetics. They have been synthesised since the 1960s according to this research. It took till 2010 to eliminate the previous pollution from its sources. We can only hope this small but growing pollution ca be eliminated without argument.