Students & Children Introduction
The Sun and UV Radiation
All of you know the sun, the great ball of light in the sky, the source of energy on Earth. But did you know that some of the sun’s rays can be very harmful to us. These rays, called Ultra-Violet (UV) rays, are very harmful to life on our planet.

Harmful Effects of UV Radiation

Exposure to UV radiation causes the following health problems:
    • Skin diseases such as cancer
    • Eye diseases such as cataract
    • Suppression of the immune system, which means you can get sick easily

The Ozone Layer
High up in the sky, in the stratosphere, lies the ozone layer. It is an atmospheric layer made up of ozone, which is a gaseous molecule containing three oxygen molecules. It acts like a protective umbrella, preventing much of the harmful UV radiation from reaching the Earth. The ozone layer is important because it helps to protect life.

Ozone Depletion

In the 1980s, scientists discovered that the ozone layer was becoming thin, allowing more UV radiation to reach the Earth's surface. Research showed that chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs (used to keep things cold, make foam, and soap and aerosols) are responsible for ozone depletion. There are other Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) such as methyl bromide (a pesticide), halons (used in fire extinguishers) and methyl chloroform.

When CFCs reach the stratosphere, they break down and release the chlorine atom. This chlorine atom reacts with the ozone to form oxygen and chlorine monoxide (ClO) a reactive gas, which devours the ozone molecules. Imagine, one chlorine atom can destroy 100,000 ozone molecules! When this happens over a period of time, the ozone layer gets depleted.

What Is Being Done?

Many countries across the world got together and signed a treaty called the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to ensure that people stop producing and using ozone depleting substances.

What Can You Do?
You can do a lot to save the ozone layer. Here are some of the things that you can do right away:

  • Spread the message about the importance of the ozone layer. You can make posters, write articles, or just tell your friends and family.
  • Tell people about the harmful effects of UV radiation and how to protect themselves.
  • Encourage people to buy CFC-free and ozone-friendly products, especially CFC-free refrigerators and air-conditioners.

Protection from UV radiation

Since UV radiation is very dangerous, you must protect yourself by:

1. Playing in the shade when you play outdoors and not in the bright sunlight.
2. Wearing clothes that cover your body so that you expose very little of your skin to the sun’s rays.
3. Always wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect the eyes from the sun.
4. Using a sunscreen when out in the sun.


Watch Ozzy Ozone, the defender of planet earth

In this video, Ozzy Ozone and Alberta the Albatross take a voyage of discovery to find out exactly who and what is attacking the ozone layer and how children can play an important role in making a difference.This video was developed as part of UNEP's Work Programme under the Multilateral Fund for Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.



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