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Question:
How has ozone depletion affected New York State?



Replies:
It is difficult to tell what has already happened, because we need scientific observations to find those facts. But I can tell you what we expect to happen based on our theory of how ozone helps protect living organisms from too much ultraviolet radiation from the sun. If the ozone gets thinner (over New York or anywhere else) then more ultraviolet (W) light will reach the earth's surface. Since W radiation is what causes sunburn, it may become easier to get a sunburn when you are outside. Severe sunburns between ages 5 and 15 can lead to an increased chance of getting skin cancer later on, so it is a good idea to cover up your skin with a hat and sun block lotion or clothing if you are going to be out in the sun for a long time. That is true regardless of how thin the ozone layer is.

The other major problem that too much W light might cause is damage to vegetation. Plants may not grow as well or may become more susceptible to diseases, which means New York farmers may harvest crops with smaller yields than possible with less W exposure. Try connecting to NASA's "spacelink" to read more about ozone. Finally, your state government may have a Department of the Environment to help answer your specific questions about New York.

Don Libby



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