A predicted widespread surge in skin cancer cases in Australia, New Zealand and Northern Europe has been prevented by environmental heroes who fought to save the ozone.
Saving the Ozone Layer
The United Nations came together in 1989 to create a mandate that would help save the world.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion.
The ozone treaty placed a mandate for all countries to stop using certain aerosol sprays and refrigerants, because those substances led to certain chlorine and bromine containing compounds entering the atmosphere. These were compounds that were depleting the ozone layer, thus diminishing the atmosphere’s ability to protect against UV rays.
UV Rays and Cancer
Australia and New Zealand currently have the highest number of deaths caused by skin cancer. But if not for the 1989 meeting of the UN, things could have been much worse.
With every 5 percent hike in the UV rays concentration filtering through the ozone layer, there is a 15 percent higher chance for squamous cell carcinoma. Additionally, the chances of developing basal cell carcinoma increase by 8 percent.
Ultra-violet levels in Australia and New Zealand could have been 8- 12 percent worse if not for the protocol. Similarly, the rapid deterioration of the ozone layer right over Northern Europe was estimated to hike up carcinoma mortality rates for Scandinavian and British peoples by over 14 percent. Thankfully, that was prevented.
A Job Well-Done, But Not Completed
Research into the concentrations of ozone-depleting compounds in various parts of the world have led to the conclusion that there has been a decrease in the amount of pollutants by almost 10 percent since its calculated peak in 1993. However, scientists believe it might not be until 2050 or 2060 before the ozone hole above Antarctica to be completely restored.