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Question:
Explain the problems of the ozone layer and what is being done to help it.



Replies:
Briefly, ozone is a gas that floats high up in the atmosphere where it helps to shield the earth from ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Some scientists have noticed lately that this thin layer of ozone gas is getting thinner, an that the thinnest spot hovers over Antarctica at the south pole. Some scientists believe that certain kinds of air pollution may destroy ozone, and this may be causing the layer to gradually thin-out. To stop this kind of air pollution from "chloro- fluorocarbons", the use of spray cans has been outlawed and the type of chemicals being used in refrigerators and air conditioners is being replaced with a new kind that is less harmful to ozone. Because thinner ozone means more sunlight reaches the surface of the earth, it may be easier to get a sunburn from staying out in the too long. That means that you have to provide your own sun shield to make up for the weaker ozone shield. Just wearing a hat in the summer when you are outside a lot will help shade your skin. So will using Sun-block lotion or wearing long sleeves.

One hundred years ago in the US it was fashionable for people to carry a "parasol" to give shade from the summer Sunday. In Spanish, "parasol" means "for the Sunday" - in other words a sunscreen. People who live in desert countries in the Middle East and North Africa wear long white clothes to shield them from the harsh sun. People who like to climb mountains have to take special sunglasses and sun block.

Don Libby



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