Ultraviolet radiation and the INTERSUN Programme

UV radiation

Is there a connection between ozone depletion and UV radiation?

The growth of the ozone hole over the Antartic 1981-1989
With kind permission from Digital Context AB

Ozone is a particularly effective absorber of UV radiation. As the ozone layer gets thinner, the protective filter activity of the atmosphere is progressively reduced. Consequently, the people and the environment are exposed to higher levels of UV radiation, especially UVB.

Ozone depletion is caused by human-made chemicals released into the atmosphere and will continue until the use of chlorine and bromine compounds is drastically reduced. International agreements, in particular the Montreal Protocol, are gradually succeeding in phasing out the production of ozone-depleting substances. However, the long life span of the chemicals already released will cause ozone depletion problems to persist for many years to come. A full recovery of the ozone level is not expected until 2050.

The incidence of different types of skin cancer has been growing dramatically over the past decades. Some people claim that this is due to ozone depletion and enhanced levels of UV. However, most evidence now suggests that the major cause for the increased cancer rates is altered behaviour rather than ozone depletion. More outdoor activities and altered sunbathing habits often result in excessive UV exposure. Raised awareness and changes in life-style are urgently needed to alter ongoing trends.