At the 31st Meeting of Working Groups of Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer,experts from all over the world raised the most crucial global problems stemming from the influence of man-made substances on the depletion of the ozone layer. It is the ozone layer that prevents an increase in the intensity of the sun’s UV-B ultraviolet radiation which in larger quantities is harmful to humans. The ozone layer filters such radiation which adversely affects human health, nature and certain materials.
The meeting’s participants also prepared draft decisions for meetings of Parties to the Montreal Protocol and to the Vienna Convention (COP) due to take place in November.
As Environment Ministry expert Rafał Szymański noted, ‘as the EU Council Presidency, during the meeting of the Working Group we are working on the position of the European Union regarding a reduction in the production and use of substances which destroy the ozone layer. I am convinced that will contribute to fruitful negotiations during the November meetings and to the continued fulfilment by all countries of the resolutions of the Montreal Protocol.’
The Montreal Protocol is regarded as the most effective international treaty in the realm of environmental protection. It contains recommendations on reducing the production and use of substances getting into the atmosphere and depleting the ozone layer. The effective implementation of the protocol’s resolutions by the 196 countries which have ratified it has halted the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer.
The ozone layer is found in the upper reaches of the atmosphere and serves as a natural filter protecting living organisms from dangerous ultraviolet radiation. The destruction of the layer by chemical compounds such as Freon and Halon gases as well as nitric oxide making their way into the atmosphere has caused what is known as the ozone hole. As a result, animals, plants and humans are exposed to greater ultraviolet radiation. That can bring about the disruption of entire ecosystems, cause the destruction of plankton-producing organisms, adversely affect vegetation, chiefly food and industrial crops, weaken the human immune system, cause cancer and irritate conjunctiva.
Among the substances most destructive to the ozone layer are the Freon and Halon gases used in refrigeration equipment, air-conditioning, cosmetics, aerosols and cleaning products. When released, those substances make it into the upper levels of the atmosphere — the ozonosphere — and remain there for years whilst depleting the ozone layer.
Apart from international efforts to eliminate the use of substances harmful to the ozone layer, it is important to improve human awareness not to use products containing those substances such as deodorants and other cosmetics, since on that depends the protection of life on Earth.