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Estimates of ozone depletion and skin cancer incidence to examine the Vienna Convention achievements

Abstract

DEPLETION of the ozone layer has been observed on a global scale1, and is probably related to halocarbon emissions. Ozone depletion increases the biologically harmful solar ultraviolet radiation reaching the surface of the Earth, which leads to a variety of adverse effects, including an increase in the incidence of skin cancer. The 1985 Vienna Convention provided the framework for international restrictions on the production of ozone-depleting substances. The consequences of such restrictions have not yet been assessed in terms of effects avoided. Here we present a new method of estimating future excess skin cancer risks which is used to compare effects of a 'no restrictions' scenario with two restrictive scenarios specified under the Vienna Convention: the Montreal Protocol, and the much stricter Copenhagen Amendments. The no-restrictions and Montreal Protocol scenarios produce a runaway increase in skin cancer incidence, up to a quadrupling and doubling, respectively, by the year 2100. The Copenhagen Amendments scenario leads to an ozone minimum around the year 2000, and a peak relative increase in incidence of skin cancer of almost 10% occurring 60 years later. These results demonstrate the importance of the international measures agreed upon under the Vienna Convention.

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Slaper, H., Velders, G., Daniel, J. et al. Estimates of ozone depletion and skin cancer incidence to examine the Vienna Convention achievements. Nature 384, 256–258 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1038/384256a0

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