Scientists suspect banned chemical that destroys ozone layer being secretly manufactured

  • Scientists suspect banned chemical that destroys ozone layer being secretly manufactured

Scientists suspect banned chemical that destroys ozone layer being secretly manufactured

The forbidden emissions, ozone-depleting chemicals grow, said Wednesday a group of scientists, suggesting that someone may secretly produce a pollutant in violation of worldwide agreements.

An ozone depleting CFC refrigerant, thought to be virtually extinct following Montreal Protocol phase outs, has mysteriously reappeared in increasing amounts in the atmosphere. Though production of CFCs was phased out by the Montreal Protocol, a large reservoir of CFC-11 exists today primarily contained in foam insulation in buildings, and appliances manufactured before the mid-1990s.

The finding seems likely to prompt an worldwide investigation into the mysterious source. The Guardian reports that if these emissions are left unchecked, it could tack an extra decade onto restoration of the all-important ozone layer, which protects the earth from the sun's damaging UV radiation.

The slowdown in reduction of CFC-11 also has implications for the fight against climate change. The growth in the size of the ozone "hole" over Antarctica has slowed. Their results were published in the journal Nature.

"A timely recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer depends on a sustained decline of CFC-11 concentrations", the wrote.

"There's a reasonable chance we'll figure out what's happening here", he said. The chemical stays in the air for about 50 years. He calls it "rogue production", adding that if it continues "the recovery of the ozone layer would be threatened".

"This evidence strongly suggests increased CFC-11 emissions from eastern Asia after 2012". "It is therefore imperative that this finding be discussed at the next Ministerial meeting of Governments given recovery of the ozone layer is dependent on all countries complying with the Montreal Protocol (and its adjustments and amendments) with emissions globally dropping to zero". Use of the chemical was banned in 2010 via the Montreal Protocol, an worldwide agreement made to protect the environment. "It is critical that we take stock of this science, identify the causes of these emissions and take necessary action", he said. Though concentrations of CFC11 in the atmosphere are still declining, they're declining more slowly than they would if there were no new sources, Montzka said.

The Montreal Protocol has been effective in reducing ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere because all countries in the world agreed to legally binding controls on the production of most human-produced gases known to destroy ozone.

If the source of these emissions can be identified and mitigated soon, the damage to the ozone layer should be minor. "I have a feeling that we will find out fairly quickly what exactly is going on and that the situation will be remedied", he said.

But "continued increase in global CFC-11 emissions will put that progress at risk".