REDUCING OZONE-DEPLETING PRODUCTS AND ADVOCATING FOR OZONE PROTECTION
Stratospheric ozone, otherwise known as the ozone layer, is layer of gas that partially shields the earth from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Increased UV rays lead to skin cancer, eye problems and immune suppression. The use of man-made greenhouse gasses in industry and household goods has caused a severe depletion of the ozone layer. If humans eliminate the use of ozonedepleting chemicals, the ozone layer can repair itself slowly over the next 50 years.
Reducing Ozone-Depleting Products
1- Check your fire extinguishers to find active ingredients. If “halon” or “halogenated hydrocarbon” is the main ingredient, throw it for recycling, and buy a model without this harmful ozone-depleting chemical. If you have to use your fire extinguisher, you will not be aggressively depleting ozone while you do it.
2- Don’t buy aerosol products with chlorofluorocarbons (CFC). Although CFCs have been banned or reduced in many applications, the only way to be sure is to check the label on all your hairsprays, deodorants and household chemicals. Opt for pump spray products over pressurized cans, to further reduce your chance of buying CFCs.
3- REPAIR YOUR REFRIGERATOR, FREEZER AND AIR CONDITIONING UNITS IMMEDIATELY UPON ANY SIGN OF PROBLEMS. These devices use an ozonedepleting chemical to function, so leaks release the chemical into the atmosphere. If these devices break, find a safe place to recycle the item so that it will not leak Freon into the atmosphere.
4- Purchase new refrigerators, freezers or air conditioners that don’t contain Freon or other chlorofluorocarbons. Most manufacturers produce models with fluorine, rather than chlorine that do not deplete the ozone layer.
5- Buy lumber, wood products and plywood that were not treated with methyl bromide. This pesticide is used commonly to fumigate; however, its industrial use is still actively depleting the ozone layer. Researching and choosing construction products that don’t employ bromomethane could be just as important as stopping the use of CFCs at home, since elemental bromine has been found to be more toxic to the ozone layer than chlorine.
6- Don’t buy office products like liquid correction fluid or compressed air that contain methyl chloroform. This is also known as “1,1,1-trichloroethane.” It is popular as a solvent, but is also depleting the ozone layer.
Advocating For Ozone Protection
1- Look into your food sources. If your state and country still allows the use of bromomethane, write a letter or call your local representatives to demand that this harmful pesticide and ozone-depleting chemical be removed.
2- Ask your doctor about prescribing medical devices that don’t emit CFCs. This is especially important with asthma, a common ailment. Inhalers still use CFCs to dispense life-saving medication.
3- Sign petitions or write letters to companies that make products with CFCs to ensure they are labeling their products correctly. If your hairspray, aerosol cans or fire extinguishers don’t say halon, CFCs or methyl chloroform.
4- Talk to friends, especially those in car, farming and manufacturing industries, about reducing their use of these chemicals. The hole in the ozone can only repair itself if these chemicals are eradicated and the ozone layer has time to reform.