What is Ozone Protection?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ozone protection is a term used to describe policies intended to safeguard the ozone layer, a layer of atmospheric gas that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the 1970s, scientists began to recognize that the ozone layer was in danger in part because of human activities. This led to the promotion of legislation and other policy tactics to address the health of the ozone layer. Worldwide, numerous governments, organizations, and companies are working on various aspects of ozone protection.

CFC compounds, used in aerosol sprays prior to 1995, destroy the ozone layer.
CFC compounds, used in aerosol sprays prior to 1995, destroy the ozone layer.

Ozone gas in the ozone layer is sometimes referred to as stratospheric ozone. It has the effect of blocking some of the radiation from the sun, making the Earth more hospitable for living organisms. While ozone levels fluctuate naturally in response to meteorological events, human activities have contributed to the thinning of the ozone layer. Most notably, a hole in the layer develops over Antarctica every summer, exposing people in regions like Australia to dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) break down ozone in the upper atmosphere.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) break down ozone in the upper atmosphere.

There are a number of ozone protection measures that can be taken to prevent further thinning of the ozone layer. Legislatively, a number of laws have been passed to limit the release of ozone-depleting gases and other chemical compounds into the environment. This is designed to reduce the risk of additional damage. In addition, legislation has been passed to mandate safe disposal of products made with components that can contribute to ozone depletion. This is designed to ensure that as products end their useful lives, they are responsibly retired from use. These laws are enforced by regulatory agencies with the power to hold inspections, levy fines, and take other steps to address pollution.

Individual organizations lobby for better legislation, educate members of the public about the damage to the ozone layer, and sponsor services like hazardous waste pickup to limit the release of dangerous compounds into the environment. Individual companies involved in ozone protection work on tasks like reforming industrial processes, trapping pollution more effectively, and providing consumers with options for returning products that contain dangerous components. Corporate responsibility is an important part of ozone protection as voluntary changes in business practices fill in legislative gaps.

In 1987, the global community met to agree on the Montreal Treaty, an international agreement to commit to protecting the ozone layer. Periodically, meetings are held for the purpose of revision to incorporate new scientific knowledge. This international agreement has been highly successful, with all signatories agreeing that ozone protection is an important priority.

Protection measures are those deemed necessary to preserve the earth's ozone layer.
Protection measures are those deemed necessary to preserve the earth's ozone layer.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@bluespirit – I know another reason why you don’t see those hairsprays as much as well – although I am with you on the change in hairstyles being a part of it.

I read an article once that actually states that because of the damage to the ozone layer that the CFCs were causing scientists came up with replacement chemicals that are now being used instead of CFCs and there has also been a near-total ban of the CFC internationally.

Also because of the ozone safety measures that have been taken some scientists believe the ozone is recovering!

Three cheers for ozone protection!


I think the biggest thing I remember about ozone treatment was the change in hairspray and other nozzle spray products. It seemed the sound of hairspray spraying was synonymous with the eighties and now either thanks to education or style change - I cannot think of anyone who uses the chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) producing hairsprays.


I can tell that the ozone layer has been depleted by the amount of time it now takes me to get a sunburn. Twenty years ago, I could be out in the sun much longer before turning pink. Today, I have to wear SPF 30 sunscreen if I’m out more than ten minutes!

I remember when SPF 15 was enough to keep me protected for hours. It’s not that way anymore.

I’m glad that ozone protection is in place these days. If we want our grandchildren to be able to walk outdoors at all, we need to do something to shield it from further harm now.


I've heard that reducing CFCs and other efforts have actually closed up or at least shrunk the hole in the ozone layer. It's nice to know that things can get better, not just worse.

I have asthma and inhalers actually work differently now because of ozone protection. They were one of the last things to go CFC-free because of their medical nature. I think it used to be that you would just spray into your mouth and you could control the length of the inhalation. You would use the inhaler until it was empty, which you could tell by floating it in water.

Now, because of the different nature of the propellant used, it's a metered dose. You have to count how many doses you use and throw it away when it's past that, because past that you might not be getting any medicine (just propellant). The big name brand, Ventolin, has a counter on it, but with the generics, you have to keep track yourself. Because that's realistic for elementary school kids with inhalers in their backpacks!


In school we learned a bit about ozone protection and to be honest, I still feel like it is a complicated matter. Humans aren't the only culprits behind ozone depletion, as science has shown that volcanic eruptions can also cause problems in the upper atmosphere.

Some of the best things you can do to help protect the ozone layer are to minimize the number of flights you take, because the planes dump a lot of pollution into the sky. Also, starting a tree-planting project can help offset some of the damage that has already done. Creating more clean air is always good, so protecting our forests is an important step in ozone protection.


Ozone protection is still a big issue today with so many people concerned about the environment and how the generations after us are going to survive. Although ozone protection seems like a big task, there are little things that everyone can do at home to help out.

Buying products that are labeled "ozone friendly" can show that you are supporting companies that make the effort to care for the environment. Also, making sure that your refrigerator and air conditioning unit are ozone friendly are just some of the things you can do. These products could potentially release CFCs into the air if they aren't handled properly and are older models.

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