Ailments Surge as Ozone Hole Widens
The increase in skin cancer from sun exposure is alarming, scientists say. Residents of southern Chile and Argentina are advised to take extra care in protecting themselves from solar rays this spring season in the southern hemisphere.
By Stephen Leahy
TORONTO, Nov 11’06 (Tierramérica) – Skin cancer, eye lesions and other infections are on the rise, a reminder that the Antarctic ozone hole continues to be a serious problem, especially for southern Argentina and Chile, where ultraviolet radiation during the spring months increases 25 percent.
The ozone layer covers the entire planet at an altitude of between 15 and 30 kilometres, and protects living organisms from the sun’s harmful rays.
According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the dramatic thinning of the ozone layer over the Antarctic — an annual phenomenon — sprawled to an average of 29.5 million square kilometres Sep. 21 to Sep. 30.
“This year’s Antarctic ozone ‘hole’ is the largest on record,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“Governments need to reduce and shut down the remaining sources of ozone-depleting chemicals,” Steiner said in a statement.
The rates of sunburn increase during the southern hemisphere springtime, when the Antarctic ozone hole is large enough to extend over the city of Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chile, according to studies conducted by Chile’s Universidad de Magallanes.
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