Science teams up with journalism and environmentalism to ‘rescue’ the ozone layer

Illegal CFC production in Eastern China had temporarily stalled healing

If, like me, you were born in the 1980s, you will remember when CFCs were banned and we stopped using certain hair sprays and spray deodorants, and replacing our refrigerators with non-CFC emitting versions. This was due to a ban on CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons, a family of chemicals that saw widespread use in refrigeration and as propellants in aerosol cans), put in place by the 1987 Montreal Protocol – an environmental treaty signed by almost every country that banned the production of these ozone-depleting chemicals from 2010.

It has been known, since the 1980s, that CFCs played a large role in destroying the ozone layer, a thin part of the Earth’s atmosphere that absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Where the ozone layer is damaged, it allows more harmful UV radiation through to reach the earth’s surface, and we all know that UV damage can lead to sun burn, damaged skin and even skin cancer.

Since the ban was put in place, the levels of ozone-harming CFC chemicals in the atmosphere had been on a steady decline. That was until in 2018, a study revealed that “the concentration of CFCs in the atmosphere wasn’t falling as quickly as we would expect”. That’s when an international team of researchers, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and environmental journalists teamed up to uncover where this new source of CFC was coming from. Using air monitoring stations in South Korea and Japan, plus a bit of detective work, the team traced the chemical back to the production of home insulation in Eastern China.

Thanks to this discovery, researchers now say the recovery of the ozone layer is now “back on track”.

BBC News
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Charli Ferrand

Charli wrote her first novel at the tender age of 9, then dabbled in the idea of becoming a professional ballerina for a few years, before returning to her love of writing, acquiring a BA (Hons) in Journalism, Film & Broadcast from Cardiff University in the UK. A three-month holiday in Australia turned into a 11 year residency, during which Charli cemented her career in PR & Marketing Communications working with some of the biggest brands in the world. She also gained her citizenship, discovered her passion for sustainability and eventually ended up coming full circle, combining her professional skills with her love of the planet and oceans into her role as Editor-in-Chief of Earth Collective. A trained journalist, experienced communications professional and qualified Mental Health First Aider, Charli has her finger on the pulse of the latest political and environmental developments around the world. You can find her writing about current affairs, political activism and mental health.

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