New Ozone-Destroying Chemical Identified

by Vins

A report by the Environmental News Network calls attention to a newly identified chemical that is destroying the ozone layer. The article, based on a study originating from the University of Leeds and published in Nature Geoscience, explains how chemicals not controlled by the United Nations treaty to protect ozone depletion are slowly depleting the ozone layer. VSLSs (or, “very short-lived substances”) are much more harmful than the better-known Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs are long living and impact the higher altitudes of the ozone; VSLS are short lived and damage the lower altitudes of the ozone layers. Dr. Ryan Hossaini, from the University of Leeds, declares that since VSLSs damage and ultimately breakdown the ozone in the lower parts of the stratosphere, they cause significant changes in climate that will prove much more difficult to repair. VSLS chemicals occur both naturally (for example, in some seaweed) and as a consequence of industrial production. A manmade example is the substance that scientists have come to call dichloromethane, which has been associated with most industrial processes. According to the study’s co-author, Martyn Chipperfield of Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment, “the presence of increasing dichloromethane will lead to uncertainty in our future predictions of ozone and climate.”

Sources:

“New Ozone-destroying Gases on the Rise,” Environmental News Network/University of Leeds, February 17, 2015, http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/48265.

Taimoor ul Islam, “Hole in the Ozone Layer: VSLS Chemicals Could Be to Blame for Ozone Depletion,” Science Times, March 12, 2015, http://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/3991/20150312/hole-in-the-ozone-layer-vsls-chemicals-could-be-to-blame-for-ozone-depletion.htm.

Student Researcher: Cecilia Ortiz Aguilar (College of Marin)

Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)