BEST OF 2014 // #77: New Gases are Damaging the Ozone


Earth’s recovering ozone layer have been one of the few good climate stories in the past five years.  Hailed as a success, it turns out the celebration may have been premature.  IN the spring, researchers discovered new types of ozone-killing gases in our atmosphere.

READ MORE // Environment and Climate

Thanks to the U.N.’s 1987 Montreal Protocol, most ozone-depleting gases were phased out, and since that time, the hole in our ozone layer gradually got smaller.  In March, however, researchers from the University of East Anglia found four new ozone-eating compounds in our air: three were chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and one was a hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC).  Together, they amounted to 81,000 tons of dangerous chemicals.  In June, they found three more – two additional CFCs and one HCFC. That made a total of seven new chemicals.

And they expect to find more.

“It could reverse the recovery trend…”
– Johannes Laube, study co-author

The emissions appear to be coming from the production of solvents, insecticides and/or refrigerants, either through some loophole, exception or possibly illegal use.

Overall levels of ozone-harming gases are still lower than before the Montreal Protocol was enacted, but since CFCs and HCFCs take a long time to disperse in the atmosphere, the ones currently discovered will continue to harm the atmosphere for decades.

There’s 99 more stories from 2014.  Check out the Best of 2014 series here

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