Scientists pinpoint four new chemicals eating away at Earth's ozone layer

By Brooks Hays  |  March 10, 2014 at 6:01 PM
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NORWICH, England, March 10 (UPI) -- Four new man-made gases are helping deplete the ozone layer, researchers from the University of East Anglia, in England, claim in a new study -- the details of which were recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

"Our research has shown four gases that were not around in the atmosphere at all until the 1960s which suggests they are man-made," lead researcher Dr. Johannes said in a news release.

The four gasses are chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases, which were invented in 1920s for use in refrigeration and aerosol sprays. These types of gases have been banned globally since 2010, and regulated since the 1980s, but loopholes still exist.

“CFCs are the main cause of the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica," the researchers write.

Scientists say they're unsure of where these new gases are coming from. "Possible sources include feedstock chemicals for insecticide production and solvents for cleaning electronic components," the study's authors surmise.

The study claims the new chemicals break down very slowly, so even if emissions are curbed, these gases are likely to stick around in Earth's atmosphere -- eating at the ozone -- for several decades.

The ozone layer sits in the lower portion of the stratosphere, some 12 to 19 miles above Earth's surface, and blocks roughly 97 percent of all the sun's ultra violent rays -- rays that could otherwise prove biologically harmful for animal and plant life.

[University of East Anglia]

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