February 28, 2007
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A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 4, NUMBER 5, MAY 1991
OZONE DESTRUCTION WORSENS
Preliminary analysis of satellite data
shows that stratospheric ozone is being lost in the Northern Hemisphere at about
twice the rate previously thought, or 4-5 percent per decade. Data from the
Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS), analyzed at the NASA Goddard Space
Flight Center in Maryland, also indicates that the loss extends to more
southerly latitudes, and lasts from winter into March and April, when more
people are likely to be exposed to ultraviolet radiation. In announcing these
results on April 4, 1991, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
William Reilly said the increased loss could mean 200,000 additional deaths from
skin cancer in the United States over the next 50 years.
The mid-latitude losses are considered at least partly a result of the
transport of air from the colder polar regions, where ice crystals provide
reaction surfaces for ozone destruction by chlorine compounds. However,
scientists testifying at a Senate hearing held in response to the results said
that sulfuric acid droplets, from volcanic eruptions or aircraft, may contribute
to the destruction at all latitudes.
Reilly said EPA will intensify efforts to assist developing countries in
phasing out CFCs and to introduce ozone-safe substitutes. As a result of the
recent findings, Senator Albert Gore and 30 other Senators urged Reilly to
accelerate current plans for phasing out CFCs in the United States. The Montreal
Protocol, already strengthened once, is scheduled for another review next year.
By that time, the newly released results should be more complete. A six-month
airborne expedition to study polar ozone will begin next fall.
See Chem. Eng. News, p. 6, April 15, 1991; Science, p. 204,
Apr. 12; Nature, p. 451, Apr. 11; Greenhouse Effect Rep., p. 67,
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