International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer: Cooperation to protect life

In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer  – mostly, the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Ozone is found in stratosphere, one of the upper layers of the atmosphere: between 19 and 48 kilometers altitude. Ozone molecules are made of three oxygen atoms, a less stable molecular structure.

The ozone layer protect the Earth from ultraviolet light (UV), which, in excess, can gradually damage living organisms and ecosystems.

The chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), or freons, can be found in sprays and in cooling liquids from freezers and air conditioning systems. When these gases reach the stratosphere, UV rays decompose them in chlorine-related substances.

In 1985, a team of British scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, which was later linked to the effect of CFCs. The hole is an area of the stratosphere where the ozone concentration is very low. It reappears every Spring in the Southern Hemisphere (August October).

In 1995, three experts who were later awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry concluded that the atmosphere has a “limited capacity to absorb chlorine atoms” from the stratosphere.

One chlorine atom can destroy more than 100,000 ozone molecules, according to the US Agency for Environment Protection, depleting ozone at a much higher rate than it can be replaced.

Romania ratified the Montreal Protocol in December 1993.

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