World Ozone Day 2019
Today, 16th September, is World Ozone Day, an International Day, which is celebrated across the Globe to Preserve the Stratospheric Ozone layer.
It is on this day when in 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed to protect the Ozone Layer from depletion. If we talk today, 197 nations are a part of this treaty. A global initiative has helped in recovering the Ozone layer at 1-3% every decade and it is expected that by 2060, the Ozone layer will be healed completely across the globe.
The question arises, Why do we need to protect Ozone Layer?
Well, we all have read it in science that Ozone (O3), is a highly reactive gas and is found in Stratosphere naturally. This atmospheric naturally occurring Ozone is good as it filters out the harmful UV rays from the Sun and its depletion will impact not just the Plant lifecycle and Food Chain, but will also have an adverse effect on human health. This stratospheric Ozone should not be confused with the Ozone found on the ground level, in the air, which we breathe. As that tropospheric ozone is a major component of Air Pollution and is harmful to us.
Human Effects due to depleting Stratospheric Ozone Layer :
- Increased exposure to Uv – B rays, will lead to increased chances of Skin Cancer.
- Overexposure to UV rays, can damage our Immune system and increase the chances of Immune-Deficiency Disorders
- It also speeds up the aging (of the skin) process
- Can cause Eye Cataracts
It can also lead to the extinction of Planktons and thus impact the overall food chain. Also, Aquatic ecosystems can be impacted.
Thus it is important that the Ozone layer isn’t depleted and this is why this day is yearly celebrated as World Ozone Day, to make more and more people aware.
But let’s understand what causes its depletion?
Few Chemicals/gases have been classified as ODS (Ozone Depleting Substances), like CFC (chlorofluorocarbon), HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbons), Methyl Bromide and even Nitrous Oxide and few more gases. These are quite scientific names and I’m sure many would not be able to relate to. So, let me tell you that these are the chemicals/gases, which are majorly present in coolants as Refrigerators, AC’s (even the Car Ac’s), Fire Extinguishers, Hair Spray’s, Aerosol’s, foam-based products, and many other solvents.
While the government and scientists are working globally, to impose a ban on many chemicals like phasing out hydrofluorocarbons and introducing products with better energy efficiency systems.
How can we individually contribute to preventing Ozone Layer Depletion?
Well, that’s not something typical, but even the smallest awareness will result in saving Ozone Layer and even the climatic changes that the world is facing. You don’t need to go out of the way, but just educate yourself and your near and dear ones on the ways.
1. Buy 5-star Rating Refrigerators and Air Conditioners:
These electronics will not just save the extra energy, but will also help you reduce your electricity bills and also will be comparatively environment-friendly. The first start should be to check if you/your parents still have refrigerators pre-1995 or quite old ones? If yes, dispose them (properly).
Read this article on disposing old CFC’s by Nat Geo
Let the authorized agents know of the units you want to dispose and let them help you out. The reason, these devices use chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) for cooling function and if not disposed of properly it can leak them into the atmosphere, further adding to the damage.
Take the following steps before buying new units :
- Check with your retailer that the new products do not contain CFC’s as coolants.
- Before buying Ac/ Refrigerator, look for the Energy rating (star). More stars mean more efficient product, which will help you lower your cost as well as it will cause lesser damage to the environment.
- Check the room size, windows and opt for the right place to get your AC installed. Don’t let any barrier come in between. Try to reduce the use of AC, but having sufficient cross-ventilation in your homes.
- Servicing: If these devices ask maintenance, do not delay it. Any leaks can be really dangerous. Even if your Car’s AC needs servicing, get that done and be assured of no atmospheric leakages.
2. Minimize the use of aerosol products:
Though CFC’s used in Aerosol has been banned, they may yet contain other toxic gases as Hydrocarbons and similar gases. So, always try to avoid aerosol sprays and use their better alternatives. Air-Freshening sprays rather pollute the indoor air. Go Natural open up doors and windows in the morning for a fresh dose of air. Instead of using aerosol sprays directed towards body use, opt for cream or pump based products.
Even if you need to buy Aerosol spray products, ensure that they do not contain CFC’s or HCFC’s.
3. Buy the right furniture:
Many fancy furniture’s are treated with Methyl Bromide. Methyl Bromide is a component very dangerous for depleting Atmospheric Ozone layer. Before buying any wooden furniture, ask the retailer as to how was it treated, Heat treated or methyl bromide treated.
4. Going Organic way:
Well, its no hullabaloo! We need to turn to organic vegetable, fruits as these chemical fertilizers are creating havoc for this good Ozone. Organic farming is good for health as well as environmentally sustainable.
Nitrous Oxide, a notorious gas which depletes Ozone, is produced by most of the cars and heavy vehicles. Evaluate your alternatives, as Car Pooling, Sharing, Using more of Public transport. Opt for Walking if you need to reach a place closer. The era of electric cars is coming soon and that will have a great impact on combating this Nitrous oxide pollution.
These were the small measures, which we can ensure as Individuals, this World Ozone Day. This year’s theme of World Ozone Day 2019 is “32 years and Healing” and you’ll read Secretary-General’s message on World Ozone Day 2019
Let’s do our bit for sustainable environment and raise awareness!