Ozone figures detailed as levels drop to record low

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The Independent Online
THE GOVERNMENT is about to start issuing weekly reports on the state of the ozone layer above Britain, the environment minister Robert Atkins said yesterday, writes Nicholas Schoon.

His announcement came as government scientists confirmed that levels of the protective ozone layer had reached record low levels last year over the northern hemisphere, including Britain. The annual season of the worst ozone depletion over northern latitudes is just beginning.

The curbs in ozone-destroying industrial gases, which most countries have already agreed, should mean that by about 2005 ozone damage reaches its maximum and the layer begins to recover.

But the British atmospheric scientists of the Stratospheric Ozone Review Group, and pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth, say much more rapid phase-outs of these gases are needed to allow the recovery to proceed more rapidly. On present trends, the ozone shield may not return to its pre-1980 strength until 30 years into the next century.

The Government is not giving health advice to accompany its ozone reports, nor will it produce reports on the quantity of ultra-violet light reaching the earth.