You are here:
STRATOSPHERIC OZONE DEPLETION: A FOCUS ON EPA'S RESEARCH
U.S. EPA. STRATOSPHERIC OZONE DEPLETION: A FOCUS ON EPA'S RESEARCH. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/640/K-95/004, 1995.
In September of 1987 the United States, along with 26 other countries, signed a landmark treaty to limit and subsequently, through revisions, phase out the production of all significant ozone depleting substances. Many researchers suspected that these chemicals, especially chlorof- luorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, were depleting the protective strato- spheric ozone layer and allowing increased levels of solar radiation to reach the Earth's surface. What made this treaty — the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer — so significant is that consensus was reached and action taken based upon scientific theory. Although the causes and effects of stratospheric ozone depletion are still not completely understood, these countries (joined by 106 more as of 1994) agreed that the potential risks were significant and that environ- mentally safe alternatives to ozone depleting substances (ODSs) could be developed. The Protocol was not ratified without considerable debate. One significant concern was that economic alternatives would be difficult to find. The highly-engineered compounds in question included refrigerants (refrigerators and freezers), coolants (air conditioning), synthetic foams (insulation, life vests, pads), propellants (aerosol spray cans), cleaning solvents, fire extinguishers, and sterilizers. Typically, these compounds were nonflammable, noncorrosive, nonreactive, low in toxicity and efficient in heat absorption and transfer ... a vital combination of traits considering their applications. Would use of alternatives present an even greater threat to human health and the environment? Would alternative compounds require replacement or expensive conversion of current equipment? Would developing nations be provided the necessary technology and financial assistance to accommodate the phaseout? Were fluctuations in the stratospheric ozone layer simply natural phenomena? The stratospheric ozone layer should heal through reduced emissions of ozone depleting substances. However, due to the long life span of these chemicals and their gradual migration to the stratosphere, we have yet to face the time of greatest solar radiation levels and the potential consequences.
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (SUMMARY)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND SUPPORT DIVISION
TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER BRANCH