Abu Dhabi: Children must take precautions from ultraviolet (UV) radiation when outdoors, an environment official urged.
The comments were made as UAE marked the international day for the preservation of the ozone layer on Thursday.
"It is critical to educate young children about being sun-safe, because they are at the highest risk of damage from ultraviolet rays," said Gayatri Raghwa, environment education specialist at the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD).
Meanwhile, the country has been making strong progress to reduce Ozone depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), methyl bromide, hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs), according to the EAD.
"UAE has so far phased out more than 85 per cent of CFC and by end of this year it is hoped they will be completely phased out," EAD said in a statement issued yesterday.
HCFC (hydrochloroflurocarbons) and HFC (hydro fluorocarbon) — which are less ozone depleting and currently used as substitutes for CFC — will also be phased out in the UAE in 2015 and 2040 respectively as these two also have a significant global warming potential.
EAD's Secretary-General Majid Al Mansouri called on the community to support the efforts of the government to protect the ozone layer reducing reliance on ozone-depleting products and switching to ozone-friendly products instead.
"Even though UAE was never a producer of CFC, it was one of the first countries to be a signatory to the Montreal Protocol, a treaty to phase out use of CFC and ozone-depleting substances."
"Back in 1999, the UAE issued Federal Law No. 13 for 1999 which controlled the import of ozone-depleting substances. It also issued Ministerial Decree No. 16 for 2003 which established fees on the licenses issued to import ozone-depleting substances," he said.
Commenting on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director said that without the Montreal Protocol and its associated Vienna Convention, atmospheric levels of ozone-depleting substances could have increased tenfold by 2050.
"This in turn could have led to up to 20 million more cases of skin cancer and 130 million more cases of eye cataracts, not to speak of damage to human immune systems, wildlife and agriculture", he said.
The ozone layer provides a fragile shield against UV rays and reduction of the stratospheric ozone would lead to increased incidence of skin cancers, cataracts and depress the human immune system.
In 2009, the world meteorological organisation reported that ozone layer depletion covered 24 million square kilometres. It was 27 million square kilometres in 2008.
"Although with the joint efforts of governments across the world the situation is improving, experts anticipate the ozone layer to fully recover only by 2075," Raghwa said.
"So it is very essential to take precautions".
A short animated film prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme entitled Protect Yourself - Protect Ozone Layer was screened at some schools.
The ozone issue was first noticed worldwide in 1985, when a British scientist reported a hole in the ozone layer occurring in the Antarctic since 1979.
Teams of scientist have attributed this rapid increase to the presence of human made chemicals.