We’ve been hearing news about the depletion of the ozone layer for a long time now, but do you ever wonder what it really means for your health? At the very least, it means changes for the planet and everything that inhabits it — including us. Before we get into all that, though, let’s start at the beginning.
What is the Ozone Layer?
Good question! The ozone layer, made up of of ozone molecules containing three atoms of oxygen each, protects the Earth from a portion of the sun’s powerful UV rays. It functions to absorb some of these rays and keep them from reaching the Earth.
What is Ozone Depletion?
Ozone depletion has been a concern since the early 1970s, when scientists began investigating the effects of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) on the ozone layer. What are CFCs and why are they so deadly? Basically, they are organic compounds that destroy the ozone layer faster than it is created naturally. Even though scientists had discovered these harmful effects, it would be a long time before chemicals like CFCs would be eradicated. While news of the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is definitely a downer, there is actually some good news: The ozone layer is expected to bound back naturally in about 50 years. Check out this page from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to learn more!
What Effect Does Ozone Depletion Have on Your Health?
Because more UVB rays reach us when the ozone layer thins, our risk of developing conditions such as cataracts and cancer goes up. We all know you can get cancer from the sun, but did you know about cataracts? Cataracts are a clouding of the eyes’ lens that causes blurred vision and can develop from prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
For starters, make sure you wear sunscreen and apply it properly, and don’t forget a cool pair of shades to keep those eyes safe. You can see our pages on protecting your skin and caring for your eyes to learn even more!
What Can You Do to Help the Ozone Layer?
Walk, bike, or carpool instead of driving alone; use energy-efficient appliances; plant a tree; recycle; and shop at your local farmer’s market. These are all easy things you can do to help the ozone layer heal itself and get back to where it used to be.