Chemicals that are known to destroy the ozone layer continue to be released into the atmosphere, and it is on an alarming rise. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were banned from production and use across the globe in 1987 after they were found to directly impact the protective ozone layer making a large "ozone hole." It was an international treaty called the Montreal Protocol, and it worked.
Only last year, NASA announced that the global effort to restore the depleting ozone layer was finally paying off. The planet's protective layer recovering was one of the first instances of an environmental policy that bore fruit. It was cause for celebration. However, a new study has found that emissions of a type of CFC has spiked by a shocking 25 percent since 2012, reports the Washington Post.
While the source of the causative chemical, trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) is yet unknown, the finding is likely to trigger a global investigation to determine exactly where it is being released from, and who is responsible for it.
The damage caused to the ozone layer is especially alarming since the global production of the chemical causing it is supposed to be at or near zero. The toxic CFC-11 is completely banned across the globe. Production levels have been reported to be at zero by countries that are responsible to enforce the international ban, notes the report.
However, according to Durwood Zaelke, an expert on the Montreal Protocol, the massive quantities of CFC-11 indicates that someone is acting in defiance of the ban.
Somebody's cheating. There's some slight possibility there's an unintentional release, but ... they make it clear there's strong evidence this is actually being produced.
As of now, the study points to the chemical originating from Eastern Asia, but that was the maximum information researchers could gather from the samples collected. The report also points out that there are alternatives to CFC-11 which are easy to come by and safer to use, so there is no real-world reason to continue using it, making the case all the more perplexing.
While it might possible that the chemicals came from the demolition of old buildings, unintentional release, or even accidental production, research evidence points to the contrary. "These considerations suggest that the increased CFC-11 emissions arise from new production not reported to [the U.N. Environment Program's] Ozone Secretariat, which is inconsistent with the agreed phase-out of CFC production in the Montreal Protocol by 2010," the researchers wrote.
The study was first published in the journal Nature.