MAY 15, 2020 1:13 PM PDT

Fixing the Ozone Layer Resulted in Other Environmental Pollution

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was enacted in 1987. A new study has revealed that the chemicals that replaced the ozone-depleting ones have created another problem by introducing harmful, persistent chemicals into the environment.

The research was conducted by York University in Toronto, Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada. The results were published last month in Geophysical Research Letters. According to the study, Perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs) are resistant to environmental degradation and may have negative impacts on environmental and human health. An article from York University explains that PFCAs are part of the perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) class of human-made chemicals used in both industrial processes and commercial products. 

The York University article states that these compounds can travel long distances through the atmosphere, and then end up in lakes, rivers, and wetlands. The study explains that once these compounds enter the water cycle, they cannot be removed. Additionally, the study cites that the compounds “accumulate in edible plants and are not removed by current drinking water treatment technologies, allowing for multiple pathways of human exposure.” The York University article reports that PFAS compounds have already been found accumulating in human blood, in addition to fruits, vegetables, and other crops.

To assess the presence of PFAS compounds, the research team sampled ice cores from two locations in Canada’s high Arctic region. As Cora Young, study co-author and assistant professor, explains in the video, the ice cores are comparable to a time capsule because of the way pollutants deposit into the environment over time. By studying the ice cores, the research team could analyze trends in pollutant deposition. One ice core dated back 40 years, and the other dated back 50 years.

The team discovered an increase in the deposition of PFAS compounds starting around 1990, which shows a strong relationship between the timing of the changes made because of the Montreal Protocol. In the York University article, Young says, “our results suggest that global regulation and replacement of other environmentally harmful chemicals contributed to the increase of these compounds in the Arctic, illustrating that regulation can have important unanticipated consequences.”

Sources: Geophysical Research Letters, York University
 

About the Author
BS Biology
Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
MAY 05, 2022
Technology
Paper-thin loudspeaker FTW!
MAY 05, 2022
Paper-thin loudspeaker FTW!
Who doesn’t love a great loudspeaker? From time immemorial, loudspeakers are the ultimate way to blast your favori ...
MAY 06, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
How Sunscreen Damages Reefs: A Mechanism Discovered
MAY 06, 2022
How Sunscreen Damages Reefs: A Mechanism Discovered
Researchers are starting to understand the reason why coral bleaches when exposed to chemicals from common sunscreens. O ...
MAY 17, 2022
Plants & Animals
Broad International Cooperation Needed to Save Coral Reefs
MAY 17, 2022
Broad International Cooperation Needed to Save Coral Reefs
Coral reefs have long been a central focus of the impacts of climate change. We hear stories every other day, it seems, ...
JUN 07, 2022
Health & Medicine
Drug that lowers blood sugar also reduces blood vessel dysfunction caused by aging
JUN 07, 2022
Drug that lowers blood sugar also reduces blood vessel dysfunction caused by aging
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives ...
JUL 02, 2022
Space & Astronomy
Martian meteorite questions longstanding theory of planetary formation
JUL 02, 2022
Martian meteorite questions longstanding theory of planetary formation
Approximately 4.6 billion years ago, our solar system formed from a cloud of gas and dust called a solar nebula that swi ...
JUL 04, 2022
Earth & The Environment
Space tourism growth could lead to climate change effects greater than the aviation industry
JUL 04, 2022
Space tourism growth could lead to climate change effects greater than the aviation industry
Space tourism is becoming a booming industry thanks to private companies like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX. ...
Loading Comments...