All of us would remember when was the first time we were introduced to this term ‘Ozone layer’ but after growing up and getting busy with our higher studies and work, when was the last time you gave a thought about it?
Every year, September 16th is marked as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone layer or World Ozone Day.
A glance of shielding layer
The Ozone layer is less of a physical ‘layer’ and more a highly- concentrated atmospheric area of a form of oxygen called ozone, which plays an important role in absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It is a fragile shield of gas which protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation of Sun and thus helping preserve life on the planet. Too much UV radiations can lead to skin cancer, cataract, and harm to wildlife and plants. It contains high concentrations of ozone (O3) in relation to other parts of the atmosphere. Stratospheric Ozone is not harmful, but its presence on land it is harmful.
About Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol is a set of measures to control depletion of ozone layer around the globe. ‘World Ozone Day’ is a special day held on September 16th to mark the day when ‘Montreal Protocol’ was signed. It was signed in 1987, which heralded the global phase out of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) found in aerosols, solvents, appliances and packaging. When in the atmosphere, CFCs slowly start moving towards the stratosphere in the upward direction and later it gets disintegrated by Ultraviolet radiation. This disintegration causes a release of chlorine items which further destroys molecules of the ozone, causing harm to the ozone layer. This was important as companies were producing million tonnes CFCs every year.
World Ozone day is celebrated since 1994 and coined by the United Nations General Assembly. This day aims to spread awareness about the Ozone Layer and search for solutions to preserve it.
World Ozone Day is also celebrated all around the globe. Many schools and colleges organize special events and activities to raise awareness about it and to teach students about the importance of Ozone layer.
UN Theme 2019
The UN Theme for this year, 32 years and healing, celebrates over 3 decades of International Cooperation to protect the ozone layer and the climate under the Montreal Protocol. Tina Birmpili, Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat has stated that the theme for this year’s World Ozone day is urging all of us to carry on with the exemplary work under the Montreal Protocol.
Are we responsible for depletion of Ozone Layer?
Though it’s too late for us to feel guilty but here are few ways how you can avoid ozone-damaging actions:
Scrap old vehicles, especially cars as their air-conditioning system used to contains CFCs (R12 Freon). Make sure to scrap it to a licenced waste management dealer.
Replace the old refrigerator-freezer, especially if it’s a pre-1994 model as it could have been made with CFCs and can harm the ozone layer. Also, newer model is more energy-efficient.
Dispose of an old fire extinguisher at homes, schools, colleges or offices. Check the active ingredients as ‘halon’ or ‘halogentaed hydrocarbon’ is a harmful ozone-depleting chemical often found in older models. Newer ones are halon-free instead.
Substances like Chlorofluorocarbons, halons, Carbon tetrachloride have high ozone layer depleting potential. Chemicals emitting from vehicles are extremely responsible for depletion of ozone layer.
Kigali Amendment 2019
This World Ozone Day, the United Nations urges the citizens of the world to support the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which came into force on January 1, 2019. According to the Kigali Amendment, by phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent climate-warming gases, we can avoid up to 0.4 degree Celsius of global temperature rise by the end of the century, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.
What are the ways to preserve it?
Ending on a good note
“Today the Montreal Protocol stands as an example of what we can achieve through intelligence, leadership and innovation,” said UN Environment head Erik Solheim.
On this day, we can be proud about how we are progressing to protect the ozone layer and the climate, but it’s a fact that this is the result of collective efforts of the people and we must also focus on what more we can do to reduce global warming.