Methyl bromide to be phased out

Zimbabwe has successfully phased out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) while methyl bromide is set to be phased out by 2030.

Addressing participants at a workshop on strategies towards the preservation and restoration of the Stratospheric Ozone Layer recently, George Chaumba, Head of the National Ozone Unit under the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management, said the effects of CFCs and methyl bromide on the human body and the environment should never be downplayed.

“The use of ozone depleting substances such as methyl bromide not only affects the environment, but it exposes the human body to ultraviolet radiation which suppresses the immune system,” said Chaumba.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Director in the Ministry of Environment, , Irvine Douglas Kunene, said that although Zimbabwe does not produce any of the chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, it needed to be part of the global network and ensure that the use of ozone depleting substances was phased out.

“The major ozone depleting substances that were in use prior to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol are methyl bromide, CFCs, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform,” said Kunene. “Our largest consumer of these substances is the agriculture sector followed closely by the refrigeration and air conditioning sector.”

The country has managed to phase out CFC consumption in refrigeration and air conditioning from a baseline level of 457 ozone depleting potential tonnes in 2010 to zero in 2013 in compliance with schedules under the Montreal protocol. “Since 2010, no imports of these chemicals have been reported,” said Kunene.

Lameck Tatswareyi, Chief Training Officer at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, said that mechanisms were in place to ensure that substances in use before the Montreal Protocol could no longer find their way into the country through porous border posts.

“Our officers are trained to detect these substances because some of them come into the country under wrong labels. Detectors at all our border posts now determine what substance is in a container in order to monitor and combat illegal trade in ozone depleting substances in accordance with the Montreal Protocol,” said Tatswareyi.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol is a global agreement in which all governments agreed to reduce and eliminate the use of man-made chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.

Scientists link ozone depletion to rising rates of skin and testicular cancers, eye cataracts and damage to key ecosystems such as neurons involved in cognitive processes and physical coordination such as muscular control.

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