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Protection of the Ozon layer

Protection of the Ozon layer

Ozone Layer Protection

In Cyprus, the competent department for the implementation of environmental legislation is the Department of Environment, of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment. Law 16(I)/2011 is the result of the obligations of Cyprus towards the European Union as they arise from Regulation (EC) No 1005/2009 and the Montreal Protocol.

Law enforcement in Cyprus affects the areas of cooling and firefighting especially, because of the restrictions that have been put on the import of substances used in these fields.

Details are provided in the Supplementary Information, the Brochure and the Guide prepared by the Department of Environment.

How is the Ozone created?

Ozone is a colourless gas created through a series of photochemical reactions in the Earth's Stratosphere. When an oxygen molecule (O2) is bombarded by ultraviolet rays, it breaks down into two free oxygen atoms which may then react with another oxygen molecule to form a molecule of ozone (O3). Ozone depletes, sometimes simply by colliding with a free oxygen atom, to create two oxygen molecules or by reacting with a variety of oxygen compounds to create oxygen. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, there was a delicate balance of ozone and oxygen in the atmosphere.

Why is the ozone layer threatened?

When certain man-made chemical compounds containing chlorine and bromine, are released into the atmosphere, they eventually travel to the higher layers, including the Stratosphere. Although these chemicals are stable in the lower atmosphere, because of high levels of infrared solar radiation in the stratosphere, are converted into highly reactive forms of chlorine and bromine. These chemicals are involved in a series of chain reactions leading to ozone depletion as shown below:-

What are the chemicals that destroy the ozone layer?

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the most well-known substances contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer, were originally created in 1928. Due to the fact that they are not flammable and have low toxicity, they were used in many different applications, such as refrigerants in refrigerators and air conditioners, propellants in aerosol cans, cleaning products for electronic equipment, in foam plastic production, etc.

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) were developed to be CFC substitutes as refrigerants and for in foam plastic production. Although HCFCs have a lower possibility of depleting the ozone layer (Ozone Depleting Potential-ODP), they still have a significant impact to allow for their long-term use.

Two other chemicals that have significant potential to deplete the ozone layer and are widely used as solvents for cleaning metals, are carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform.

The most basic chemicals containing bromine that deplete the ozone layer are called halons and are mainly used in firefighting equipment. Some halons are capable of destroying the ozone ten times higher than that of the most powerful chlorofluorocarbon.

Another chemical with a high ODP is methyl bromide, used primarily as an agricultural pesticide and for disinfecting agricultural products.

What are the harmful effects caused by ozone depletion?

The ozone layer protects all life forms from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation (UV-b), by absorbing the bulk that comes from the Sun.

Exposure to high levels of ultraviolet radiation is extremely dangerous and can cause:

    · Skin cancer

    · Eye cataract

    · Reduced agricultural production

    · Significant disturbance of the marine ecosystem

    · Destruction of materials such as paints and plastics

    · Global warming and climate change.

How did the international community confront the depletion of the ozone layer?

In March 1985, the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer was ratified. Upon agreement that concrete measures are required to curb the growing use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol was finalized in September 1987, which today is considered one of the most successful environmental protection agreements in the world.

The Protocol lays down a mandatory timetable for the eradication of ozone-depleting substances. This timetable is constantly being revised, with eradication dates modified in line with technological progress.

Recent scientific evidence suggests that the controls imposed by the Protocol have begun to achieve the expected results by slowing down the rate of emissions of ozone-depleting substances into the atmosphere. Assuming that all countries will continue to follow the eradication timetable set by the Protocol, it is expected that the rate of reduction of ozone in the upper atmosphere will be stabilized and will recover around 2050.

How did the European Union deal with the destruction of the ozone layer?

The European Union, as in most cases involving the protection of the environment, has taken the lead and has introduced Regulation (EC) No. 2037/2000 on substances that deplete the ozone layer. This regulation sets the framework for the control of substances that deplete the ozone layer within the EU and includes significantly more stringent requirements on restriction in relation to those of the Montreal Protocol.

Cyprus, which ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1992, was classified as a developing country, in accordance with Article 5. However, as of 1 May 2004, as a member of the European Union, it has to apply fully and without any derogations the above Regulation. The Regulation was incorporated into Cypriot legislation by Law No. 158(I)/2004 which was subsequently amended to 16(I)/2011.

What are the implications of the implementation of the Law in Cyprus?

The implementation of the Law may have significant effects on both the market and the consumer, especially in the areas of firefighting, refrigeration and air conditioning. These can be summarized as follows:

    · All fire extinguishing systems and portable extinguishers containing halons must be withdrawn and the halons contained in them should be disposed of in an environmentally acceptable manner.

    · Imports of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or equipment containing them, have been banned. The CFCs in the equipment to be disposed of must be extracted and destroyed using environmentally acceptable technology.

    · Imports of refrigeration or air conditioning equipment containing hydrochlorofluorocarbons, usually R-22, have been banned.

    · Imports of clean R-22 for the maintenance of existing equipment have been banned and only recycled R-22 is allowed until 2015.

Last Modified at: 22/01/2019 10:13:00 AM
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