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OZONE LAYER WILL GET WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER

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Record levels of ozone depletion were recorded over the United Kingdom during the past 12 months and this could lea...
Record levels of ozone depletion were recorded over the United Kingdom during the past 12 months and this could lead to increases in harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, two reports published by the department of the environment say.

An increase in UV radiation could have potentially adverse effects on living organisms, air quality and materials.

The reports by the Stratospheric Ozone Review Group (SORG) and the Ultraviolet Measurements and Impacts Review Group (UMIRG), complement each other, with the UMIRG report looking at the consequences for the UK of ozone layer depletion detailed in the SORG report.

The SORG report notes significant losses of total ozone over the Antarctic and major losses in the Arctic earlier this year. It predicts continued ozone layer destruction in the near future due to previous and current emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone depleting substances.

However, the ozone layer is expected to begin recovery within the next decade and to have recovered substantially by the middle of the next century due to international action taken under the Montreal Protocol.

Even so, the continuing damage caused to the ozone layer by mans activities will not be resolved for many decades leading to an enhancement of UV radiation.

Possible effects of increased UV exposure include sunburn, skin cancer as well as damage to the eyes and the immune system.

Commenting on both reports, environment secretary John Gummer said:

'These independent scientific assessments highlight the importance of reducing ozone depletion, and fully justify the action already taken by the United Kingdom to phase-out the production of ozone depleting substances.

'Working with our European partners, measures which are tougher than those agreed under the terms of the Montreal Protocol have been put in place to limit and end the use of these substances. There is no room for complacency and we will be working hard to achieve rapid reductions in ozone depleting substances globally.

'Even with the existing controls under the Montreal Protocol, and the more stringent European regulations, international efforts need to continue. Later this month, governments will meet in Costa Rica to agree on the amount that developed countries will contribute to the Multilateral Fund over the next three years to enable developing countries to reduce their consumption of ozone depleting substances in line with the controls set under the Montreal Protocol.

'This is a global problem, and it is not sufficient to eliminate production in developed countries - we look to developing nations to play their part in eventually ridding the world of these destructive substances,' he said.

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