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Dichloromethane delays ozone hole recovery by decades if left unregulated – 28th June

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The ozone destroying chemical dichloromethane is found in paint stripper, industrial solvents and aerosol spray propellants and threatens to delay ozone recovery due to atmospheric levels of the chemical doubling in the last decade. Despite the Montreal protocal outlawing CFCs, new research published in Nature Communications shows that ozone hole recovery is proving a persistent environmental problem, as it helps to shield the Earth from harmful levels of UV radiation otherwise detrimental to human, animal and plant health.

The study analysed levels of dichloromethane in the atmosphere, and found it rose by 8% a year between 2004-14 which would lead to the ozone layer’s recovery being delayed by 30 years to 2090. Dichloromethane’s short lifespan means that action to cut its emissions would see rapid benefits. Grant Allen, of the University of Manchester, says “we must act now to stop its release to the atmosphere in order to prevent undoing over 30 years of exemplary science and policy work which has undoubtedly saved many lives”.

Others are calling for Dichloromethane’s inclusion in the Montreal protocol to prevent further ozone damage. Estimates indicate that without the protocol existing, the Antarctic ozone hole would have been 40% larger by 2013.

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Photo credit: Justin Kase/Alamy

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