Published: Sat, May 25, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

China is still releasing banned ozone-killing chemicals into atmosphere

China is still releasing banned ozone-killing chemicals into atmosphere

"The study represents a particularly policy-relevant milestone in atmospheric scientists' ability to tell which regions are emitting ozone-depleting substances, greenhouse gases, or other chemicals, and in what quantities", said co-author Professor Ray Weiss from the University of California San Diego.

Since 2013, annual emissions of the banned chemical Chlorofluorocarbon-11 (CFC-11) from that region have increased by about 7,000 tonnes, according to a report in peer-reviewed journal Nature.

The most plausible explanation for such an increase is that CFC-11 was still being produced, even after the global ban, and on-the-ground investigations by the Environmental Investigations Agency and the New York Times seemed to confirm continued production and use of CFC-11 even in 2018, although they weren't able to determine how significant it was.

Researchers discovered the thinning of Earth's protective ozone layer in the 1970s and linked it to chlorofluorocarbons, which were used in refrigerators and aerosol cans.

After the ban came into force, global concentrations of CFC-11 in the atmosphere declined substantially until 2012.

Reports previous year from non-governmental organization the Environmental Investigation Agency fingered Chinese foam factories in the coastal province of Shandong and the inland province of Hebei, which surrounds Beijing.

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With the help of an global network of measurement devices created to identify and track gases in the atmosphere, the team behind the study found that data from their devices in Korea and Japan has spiked since 2013.

To establish which countries were responsible for the growing pollution levels at these stations, an global team of modeling groups at University of Bristol, the U.K. Met Office, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, and MIT ran sophisticated computer simulations that determined the origin of the polluted air samples. "We didn't find evidence of increased emissions from Japan, the Korean peninsula or any other country", added Luke Western, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bristol. "Therefore, it was unexpected when it was reported a year ago that, starting around 2013, global emissions of one of the most important CFCs suddenly began to grow". Due to its potency, CFC-11 has 5,000 times the warming potential as carbon dioxide, making it a serious driver in climate change as well. Scientists had discovered that CFC-11 levels were rising despite its ban in 2010, indicating that it was still being used somewhere in the world, though no one could definitely point toward the source at that time. If steps are not taken to bring down the emissions, then there will be a delay in the recovery of the Antarctic ozone hole.

Ozone-depleting gases, measured in the lower atmosphere. In recent years, scientists have said that the ozone layer was starting to show signs of healing.

The depleted region of the ozone layer that protects the northern hemisphere and the mid-latitudes is expected to completely recover by 2030, researchers said.

Because scientists have noticed the chemical increase in the atmosphere early, "that gives us a really good chance to make sure they don't do too much damage", he said.

Through this study, the main source area of pollution is found and it is against the Montreal Protocol.

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