B.C. Air Quality

What You Can Do about Ozone Depletion

Help Prevent Further Ozone Depletion

The nations of the world have taken a crucial step in joining together to halt the production and use of ozone-destroying chemicals. But the work can't stop there. Here's what you can do:

  • Know the rules: It is illegal to recharge refrigerators, freezers and home/vehicle air conditioners with CFCs.
  • If you have an older vehicle with an air conditioner*, have it serviced by a qualified technician, and make sure the CFC is recaptured and recycled by technician who is specifically certified to do this work. If you don't use your air conditioner — or if the vehicle is about to be scrapped — make sure a qualified technician recaptures and recycles the CFC.
    *Vehicles of model year 1995 or newer do not use CFCs.
  • The same rules apply to older refrigerators freezers and home air conditioners, which may contain CFCs.
  • Don't buy or use portable fire extinguishers that contain halons.

Protect Yourself from Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation

Some ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun has always reached the earth, but most of it has been screened out by the ozone layer. There has always been a reason for people to avoid too much of the sun's damaging rays. But this is true now more than ever, due to ozone depletion. Be sun safe. Follow these tips:

  • There's no such thing as a "healthy" tan. Tanning isn't good for you, especially when the ozone layer is depleted. Fair-skinned people are particularly vulnerable to UV radiation, as are infants and children — but everyone should be careful.
  • Be aware that UV radiation is most intense during the summer, so take extra precautions. Don't overlook all the "innocent" minutes throughout the year when you're outside briefly. They can add up to a lot of radiation.
  • Sit in the shade, and avoid prolonged exposure when the sun is high: between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing and a broad-brimmed sunhat. Sunglasses with 100% UV protection are also important.
  • Use a good sunscreen and apply it liberally. It should have a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and screen both UV-A and UV-B rays.
  • Reapply sunscreen after you've been swimming or perspiring a lot.
  • Check Environment Canada's UV Index: It helps Canadians protect themselves from overexposure to UV radiation, by providing twice-daily forecasts of the amount of radiation expected for different areas of the country.
  • Taking a holiday in your favourite tropical isle? Have fun, but be very cautious about those UV rays. Though ozone depletion is not as pronounced near the equator, the ultraviolet radiation is extremely intense, mainly due to the angle of the sun.
  • Keep in mind that you can still get a lot of sun in the winter. Be especially careful when you're doing outdoor sports, such as skiing. Reflection off fresh snow nearly doubles UV radiation.

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