September 16 is observed as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. Experts tell ways to create awareness among the public

“Ozone…? We are more concerned about the place fast becoming a ‘P’zone (read pollution zone),” G. Ramesh, a textile businessman, vents out his anguish. The lack of immediacy to the problem is the reason for the lack of awareness about ozone depletion and its consequences.

Creating awareness among the public is the immediate requirement as there are several misconceptions about ozone. People often misconstrue global warming and see it as the outcome of ozone depletion. “People should be educated on this subject. Any depletion in the ozone layer will only expose the planet to the ultra violet and infra red radiations from the sunlight causing skin cancers and eye impairment,” says S. Dhinakaran, resource person, Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF).

The theme for this year’s celebration is “A healthy atmosphere, the Future We Want”.

Being party to the Montreal protocol, the country has made sure all manufacturing companies use alternative chemicals for Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). But monitoring the emissions on a wider scale is yet to gain momentum, feel experts.

Products manufactured recently use alternative chemicals but the old refrigerators and old air conditioners which are in use can still pose a threat. “Again, disposing them is not easy. As there is no proper database of such machines in use, it is going to be a big problem for the government,” says Dhinakaran.

“Though there are plenty of projects waiting for research scholars, not many come forward due to insufficient data and unclear emission norms. It is difficult to check the ODS emission when testing facility for ODS is not available locally,” says S. Rajamohan, Managing Director, Enviro Care Private Limited.

In what way can the public contribute in stopping ozone depletion? “It is tricky. At best, people could stop buying refrigerators, air conditioners and fire extinguishers that use ODS as coolants,” says Rajamohan.

People should be sensitised through widespread awareness campaigns and it should shape into a mass movement, says M. Pandiarajan, district secretary, TNSF.

The TNSF organised an awareness programme for the school students at the Muthupatti Village, where students were briefed about the ill effects of ozone depletion and the collective responsibility to protect the planet from harmful radiations.

Government should announce subsidies on alternative substances to encourage manufacturing companies to drop use of ODS in the production of refrigerators and air-conditioners, feel experts.

The onus is on the government and the manufacturing companies to make the planet a safer place to live.

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