The ozone layer is a fragile shield of gas that protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun. It has protected human health and ecosystems by limiting the harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the Earth, thus helping preserve life on the planet.
There have been several initiatives to phase-out the ozone depleting substances by controlled uses of such substances. This has not only led to reduction in ozone layer depletion but also helped protect the ozone layer for this and future generations. Ozone layer depletion is a shared concern for every country and this has led to significant global efforts to address climate change
In the late 1970s scientists discovered that humanity was creating a hole in this protective shield. The hole – caused by ozone-depleting gases (ODSs) used in aerosols and cooling, such as refrigerators and air-conditioners – was threatening to increase cases of skin cancer and cataracts, and damage plants, crops, and ecosystems.
In 1985, a global movement to tackle the problem of ozone layer depletion commenced as the world’s governments adopted the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. Under the Convention’s Montreal Protocol, governments, scientists and industry worked together to cut out 99 per cent of all ozone-depleting substances. Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, the ozone layer is healing and expected to return to pre-1980 values by mid-century. In support of the Protocol, the Kigali Amendment, which came into force in 2019, will work towards reducing hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs), greenhouse gases with powerful climate warming potential and damaging to the environment.
Vehicle Emissions and Air Quality
The Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle’s when their engine is running, several different types of gasses and particles are emitted that can have adverse effects on the environment. Out of the gasses and particles these vehicles emit are carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas; hydrocarbons — any of more than a dozen volatile organic compounds, some of which are known carcinogens; nitrogen oxides; sulfur oxides; and particulate matter, tiny particles of solids, such as metal and soot. Other emissions that affect human health and create smog include ozone and carbon monoxide. Vehicle emissions can affect the environment in several ways. Cars emit greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, which contribute to global warming. Some air pollutants and particulate matter from cars can be deposited on soil and surface waters where they enter the food chain; these substances can affect the reproductive, respiratory, immune and neurological systems of animals. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are major contributors to acid rain, which changes the pH of waterways and soils and can harm the organisms that rely on these resources.
About World Ozone Day
World Ozone Day, held on September 16, celebrates this achievement. It shows that collective decisions and action, guided by science, are the only way to solve major global crises. In this year of the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought such social and economic hardship, the ozone treaties’ message of working together in harmony and for the collective good is more important than ever. The slogan of the day, ‘Ozone for life’, reminds us that not only is ozone crucial for life on Earth, but that we must continue to protect the ozone layer for future generations.
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