Ozone Layer Predicted to Heal by 2066

Samantha Elkins, Print-Co-Editor-in-Chief

On Jan. 10, the United Nations released a report predicting the hole in the ozone layer will mend. Some areas of the ozone layer will heal faster than others, but scientists predict complete healing by 2066.

The ozone layer is in Earth’s stratosphere, and absorbs a majority of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, keeping it from reaching the surface. The sun’s harmful UV rays protruding through the ozone hole at higher rates due to man-made damage have dangerous effects if left untouched: harming crops, increasing skin cancer rates and harming all animal life on Earth.  The ozone hole resides in the atmosphere above Antarctica, currently spanning 98.91 million square miles. The removal of harmful chemicals found in household products and national attention has reduced the ozone hole, moving it on the path toward complete healing. 

Four years ago, scientists saw some progress in the ozone layer’s healing, but this recent report solidified confidence about its progress. Many celebrate this environmental success as the report reveals that the two major damaging chemicals to the ozone, chlorine and bromine, have reduced to 11.5% and 14.5% respectively. 

In the 1970s, many nations grew concerned about the amount of harmful ozone-depleting substances in use. Products containing aerosol, such as hairspray, caused harm to the ozone because they contained the chemical chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). When ozone-depleting substances come in contact with the ozone layer, they destroy ozone molecules. 

In a historical environmental agreement finalized in 1987, signed by 197 countries, called the Montreal Protocol, countries made strides to save the ozone layer. Countries agreed on how to produce and consume around 100 man-made chemicals that would deplete the ozone and devised a strategy and timetable to implement it. Scientists credit the Montreal Protocol for the ozone layer’s hole getting smaller and its eventual renewal.