The ozone layer that shields life from cancer-causing solar rays is showing its first sign of recovery after years of dangerous depletion, according to a United Nations study, Reuters reported.
The high-altitude hole that appears over Antarctica has stopped growing bigger every year, although it will be about a decade before it starts shrinking, according to the report co-produced by the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Programme.
Experts attribute the improvement to a 1987 international pact banning man-made gases that damage the fragile screen.
“International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story … This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of tackling climate change,” WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud was quoted as saying.
Past studies have suggested the ozone layer has stopped getting worse.
“Now for the first time in this report we say that we see indications of a small increase in total ozone. That means recovery of the ozone layer in terms of total ozone has just started,” said WMO senior scientific officer Geir Braathen.
The 1987 Montreal Protocol that banned or phased out ozone-depleting chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons once widely used in refrigerators and spray cans, would prevent two million cases of skin cancer annually by 2030, the UNEP said.
The agreement would also help avert damage to wildlife, agriculture, human eyes and immune systems, the agency added.
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