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With Safer Science Ozone Hole Shows Signs of Shrinking, Scientists Say, New York Times, by Henry Fountain (June 30, 2016)

01OZONE-master768Nearly three decades after the world banned chemicals that were destroying the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer, scientists said Thursday that there were signs the atmosphere was on the mend.

The researchers said they had found “fingerprints” indicating that the seasonal ozone hole over Antarctica, a cause of concern since it was discovered in 1984, was getting smaller. Although the improvement has been slight so far, it is an indication that the Montreal Protocol — the 1987 treaty signed by almost every nation that phased out the use of chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs — is having its intended effect.

Full recovery of the ozone hole is not expected until the middle of the century. “This is just the beginning of what is a long process,” said Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lead author of the study, published in the journal Science.

Ozone high in the stratosphere protects life on earth by absorbing damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun. But ozone is destroyed by reactions with chlorine and other atoms that are released by CFCs and similar chemicals, which were used for decades as refrigerants and propellants.

More ultraviolet radiation leads to increased incidence of skin cancers, cataracts and other health problems.

Scientists who pushed for the treaty always acknowledged that recovery of the ozone layer would be very slow, because CFCs linger in the stratosphere for a long time.

“Think of it like a patient with a disease,” Dr. Solomon said. “First, it was getting worse. Then it stopped — it was stable but still in bad shape.”

Now, she said, “as molecules slowly decay away from the atmosphere, it’s getting just a little bit better.”

David Fahey, a research physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who was not involved in the study, said Dr. Solomon’s work “gives us a critical level of confidence that we are moving in the direction we want to see.”

It also reinforces that the Montreal Protocol has been a “resounding success,” Dr. Fahey said. “It stands head and shoulders above any other environmental treaty.”

While ozone has been depleted in the Arctic and mid-latitude regions as well, the destruction over Antarctica is greater, in part because temperatures there are so cold. Technically, the depleted area is not a hole, but rather a large region of the stratosphere — in some years, it is larger than the North American continent — where the concentration of ozone is below a certain threshold.

Because the reactions that cause ozone to be destroyed require sunlight, this thinning begins each year in late August, when winter in the Southern Hemisphere is ending, and reaches its maximum by September and October. The ozone layer recovers later in the year, and then the cycle repeats itself.

Ozone depletion is a complex process that is affected by variables like temperature, wind and volcanic activity. So Dr. Solomon and the other researchers looked at data from satellites and balloon-borne instruments taken each September. That made it easier to separate the effects of the decline in chlorine atoms from the other factors. They also compared the data with the results of computer models.

The study found that the ozone hole had shrunk by about 1.5 million square miles, or about one-third the area of the United States, from 2000 to 2015. This reduction occurred despite the effects of some volcanic eruptions, including one last year in the Chilean Andes that led to one of the largest holes ever measured.

Geir Braathen, a senior scientific officer at the World Meteorological Organization, said that the use of computer models by Dr. Solomon and her colleagues was important. “Just looking at observational data, even if you see some hint of improvement, you can’t say if it’s due to ozone-depleting gases,” he said. “That’s why they used the models.”

A 2009 analysis by NASA scientists showed what the world would have been like had there been no Montreal Protocol, and CFC production and use had continued. By midcentury, their simulations showed, the ozone hole would have covered the world, and at noon on a clear summer day in a city like New York, the UV index, a measure of the damage the sun can do, would have caused a noticeable sunburn on unprotected skin in 10 minutes.

That dire situation has been avoided thanks to the collective efforts of society, Dr. Solomon said. “We are seeing the planet respond as expected to the actions of people,” she said. “It’s really a story of the public getting engaged, policy makers taking action, and business getting engaged.”

Thank You for “Liking” our Products!

treehuggerWe thank, and writer John Laumer, for the article entitled, “Eco Concepts R&D: A Manufacturer of Green Cleaning Products“.  In the article touting the original manufacturer of the Green Concepts branded products, Eco Concepts, Inc., Laumer says, “We liked Eco Concepts on first sight. Their website is well done, and the business approach so sensible sounding, we were an easy sell. Here’s the short list of ordinates they formulate by: ingredients readily biodegradable and all have low aquatic toxicity; every ingredient renewable; market focus on concentrates to reduce packaging and fuel; and all products designed to be safe for human contact. Plus, the formulations have low-to-no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and only contain dyes that are approved by the FDA for human consumption. That’s more meaningful than the typical “organic” or “natural” labels approach if you need to look at all factors in balance…Hats off to EcoConcepts for the effort at risk communication and a circumspect formulation approach.”

Thank you and thank you John Laumer for your commitment to environmental stewardship, and for your support of our products!

John Laumer is an independent consultant for environmental management systems development, training in product stewardship, product introduction management, scenario planning, and risk assessment.  John was senior staff member of a regional planning agency, consultant to an EPA Regional Administrator, field biologist, etc., and studied environmental science and engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Cleaning Green: Less Mess With Less Environmental Stress, By George Leposky

south florida cooperatorWe applaud The South Florida Cooperator Newspaper for educating the public on responsible cleaning practices. In an article entitled, “Cleaning Green: Less Mess With Less Environmental Stress“, by freelance writer George Leposky, the Newspaper addresses multiple issues related to truly effective, cost effective, safer and environmentally preferable cleaning practices.  Notably, Leposky quotes the original manufacturer of the Green Concepts branded product line, Eco Concepts, Inc.’s President, Gil Oren, several times in the article.

The South Florida Cooperator Newspaper is a publication that serves the South Florida Condo, HOA and Co-op community with informative free articles on management, finance, maintenance and more…

Thank You “Radio Green Earth” (NPR Affiliate)

radio-green-earth-logoIn a broadcast on “Radio Green Earth” (NPR Affiliate) about “I Can’t Believe They’re Green” industries, Radio Green Earth took an in-depth look at how environmental leaders in are transitioning from the past practices to cutting edge technologies and processes that not only are more eco-responsible, but are superior industry performers at competitive prices.  During the broadcast, hosts Missy and Jim learned about exciting new breakthroughs that are enabling traditionally “brown” industries to reduce their environmental impacts.  The hosts talked with expert Gil Oren who is the President of Eco Concepts, original product manufacturer of the Green Concepts brand of cleaning products, about the products they produce that provide us with truly green eco-responsible alternatives to products we use in our everyday lives.  Gil sprayed the studio window with Enamel Spray Paint and removed it with the professional industry Graffiti Remover also packaged as the Tough Deposit Remover!

Listen to the broadcast by clicking below:

“Radio Green Earth” is an award winning weekly program produced for Public Radio focusing on environmental education. The show offers current environmental news from experts on subjects such as alternative energy, green buildings, energy efficiency, endangered species, environmental protection, Everglades restoration, water conservation, and much more. They inform listeners about the technologies, products, and practices they can employ to become greener in every area of their business and personal lives.

Every week Florida Public Radio Stations broadcast Radio Green Earth’s news, features, interviews and commentary on a broad range of environmental issues. Radio Green Earth provides an hour of environmental news, feature stories, our green tip of the week, and an update on eco-friendly events in South Florida. Listeners can also tune in at or download our podcasts from iTunes.

Hear Radio Green Earth on:

  • Seaview Radio 960 AM, 95.9 FM and 106.9 FM, Thursdays 6-7 PM
  • WQCS 88.9 FM HD2, Treasure Coast NPR Affiliate, Thursday 9 AM
  • – just click on “Listen Live”

Radio Green Earth is a production of The Green Earth Environmental Education Foundation, an IRS 501 (c) 3 non profit entity.