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Ozone layer is one of the earth’s atmospheres known as stratosphere. It is a layer that surrounds the earth at a height of twenty five kilometers from the earth’s surface. The most important purpose of this layer is to prevent harmful ultra-violet rays of the sun from reaching the earth’s surface. Ultra-violet rays have a very diverse effect on every living organism, including crops, marine life, birds, animals and humans. This implies that depletion of the ozone layer can cause negative side effects on all living organisms.
Ozone depletion has gained much importance in social-political debates in New Zealand, partly owing to its unique location. New Zealand is situated in the southern hemisphere and close to the Antarctic. This means that when the ozone hole starts to break in early spring, it spreads over New Zealand. As a result, New Zealand experiences high ultra-violet radiations levels particularly during summer and spring. Since the country relies on fishing and agricultural resources, it depends on better plant growth, a healthy atmosphere and a clean environment (New Zealand, 1995).
The major public concern pertaining the ozone hole is its increased effects on human health. The depletion of the ozone layer has both negative and positive effect on human health. One of the major side effects of the ultra-violet rays’ exposure is skin cancer. The most forms in humans are squamous and basal cell carcinaysomas. These types of cancers are rarely fatal and relatively mild. Another type of cancer is malignant melanoma; which is very dangerous but less common.
The other effect of ozone layer depletion is eye damage. Ocular exposure to ultra-violet rays increases the risk of cortical opacity which causes cortical cataracts. Ultra-violet light is the main agent through which the skin produces Vitamin D. As a result, higher ultra-violet rays exposure increase the production of vitamin D in humans leading to intoxication.
Due to diverse effects of the ozone layer depletion, New Zealand had to initiate a commitment on all those substances that their usage leads to depletion of the ozone layer. These commitments are contained in the Ozone layer Protection Act 1996. This Act contains rules relating to specific substances. The majority of the controls stress on the importation of bulk substances (UNEP 1992).
The Act lays down broad controls for ozone-depleting substances. These provisions prohibit the manufacture, sale, export or import of such substances apart from those indicated under the regulations act. Additionally, the Environment Minister requires people who deal with ozone depleting substances to create codes of practice or know their obligation and have enough knowledge to fulfill them (UNEP 1992).
On the hand, the provision indicates that, it is an offence to break the provision or to allow the release of controlled substances knowingly during servicing, operating, installation and dismantling equipments. The regulation also prohibits the importation of freezers, dehumidifiers, supermarket display cases, refrigerators, water coolers and heat pumps that contain chloro-floro-compounds except when they are part of equipment (New Zealand, 1998).
The provisions contain important features. One of the features is that, it indicates a full list of substances which are controlled. Another feature is the prohibition of the export or import in bulk processing of most controlled substances. Moreover, it provides for the importation of methyl bromide under the permit for quarantine, soil fumigation and pre-shipment purposes. In addition, the provision indicates the phasing out schedule for hyro-chlor-floro-compounds and details of the importation permit system in use when the phase period is on.