NCAR helps study Montreal Protocol should prevent 443 million cases of skin cancer and 63 million cases of cataracts – Longmont Times-Call


New study shows that the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement to protect the ozone layer, is expected to prevent 443 million cases of skin cancer and 63 million cases of cataracts in people born in the United States of America. here the end of the century.

The researchers include scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, ICF Consulting, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.

NCAR scientist Julia Lee-Taylor said the study focuses on the adverse health effects of the Montreal Protocol and its subsequent amendments, which aims to regulate and eliminate the use of chlorofluorocarbons that destroy l ozone in the stratosphere. The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 after scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica in 1985.

Lee-Taylor said the Montreal Protocol provided about half of the needed benefits and subsequent amendments helped strengthen the treaty and virtually eliminate the problem by expanding the list of ozone-depleting substances.

The ozone layer absorbs ultraviolet radiation and protects living organisms on Earth.

“The adverse health effects come from the fact that ozone filters UV rays from the atmosphere,” Lee-Taylor said. “If you reduce ozone, you let more UV come down to the earth’s surface, which can have negative health consequences, such as skin cancer and cataracts. So if you allow the ozone layer to heal, you reduce UV and reduce the number of adverse health consequences. “

Scientists created a five-part computer modeling approach that allowed them to predict what the different outcomes would be for Americans born between 1890 and 2100. Lee-Taylor said the model includes data on chemical emissions, quantity of chlorine in the stratosphere, the amount of UV at ground level for a certain amount of ozone, health data and US population projections from the US Census Bureau.

David Hosansky, head of media relations at NCAR, said the model allows scientists to simulate past and future emissions of ozone-depleting substances, the impacts of these emissions on ozone in the stratosphere, the changes that This results in the levels of UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, the exposure of the American population to radiation and the resulting health effects.

In addition to preventing 443 million cases of skin cancer and 63 million cases of cataracts, 2.3 million skin cancer deaths will be prevented in the United States thanks to the treaty and its amendments.

Hosansky said the research is important for two reasons: to quantify how recovering the ozone layer will benefit society and to demonstrate what happens when the international community works together to tackle environmental issues.

“It is remarkable that the treaty phase-out of ozone-depleting substances like CFCs will prevent over 99% of the potential health impacts that would otherwise have occurred from ozone depletion,” Hosansky said in an email.

Lee-Taylor said that as scientists learn more about the situation, policymakers can strengthen new regulations, where appropriate, to help better serve the public.

“I think it gives us some hope that the international community has power to develop environmental regulations that solve real problems and benefit people’s lives,” Lee-Taylor said.

The study can be viewed in ACS Earth and Space Chemistry at

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