Stratospheric Ozone Depletion And Its Effect On Skin Cancer Incidence

2685 words - 11 pages


This term paper is situated in an area of specific health related and environmental concern: the human dimensions of global change. For about a decade now there has been growing scientific interest in the global environmental changes resulting from anthropogenic activity. However most of this research has focused on the scientific bases of environmental transformations with little attention to how human social responses are linked to global change. As a result, scientists and researchers alike are beginning to ask questions about the symbiotic relationship between human well being and physical change.


This research compilation plans to use one environmental health component of the global change phenomena - ozone depletion and skin cancer - to advance and deepen your understanding of the relationships between human wellness and environmental change. This project should deepen understanding by developing a framework for conceptualizing environmental health policy issues. In this way the relationships between scientists, policy makers and the public will be explored theoretically as the interactions of science, the state, and society as a whole.

The Relationship of Skin Cancer Prevalence and the Increase in Ultraviolet-B Exposure due to Ozone Depletion

Ultraviolet-B radiation damages the human skin: Acute exposure causes sunburn and chronic exposure results in loss of elasticity and increased aging. Increased absorption of UV-B triggers a thickening of the superficial skin layers and an increase in skin pigmentation (both of which act to protect the skin against future sunburns). This protective mechanism however, also makes the skin more vulnerable to skin cancer. Strong evidence exists of a dose-relationship between non-melanoma skin cancer and cumulative exposure to UV-B radiation. Increased risk of malignant melanoma is associated with episodes of acute exposure that result in severe sunburns, especially those that occur during childhood. In general, the incidence of non-melanoma and malignant melanoma skin cancer has increased significantly over the past few decades, particularly in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Scandinavian countries. This large "outbreak" has intrigued researchers into examining the relationship of the growing risk of skin cancer to increases in ground-level UV-B radiation due to ozone depletion.

According to the latest Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion issued by the United Nations and the US Government, human-influenced ozone-depletion may peak around 1998

and will persist well into the 21st century. For the US and other mid- latitude countries of the Northern Hemisphere, ozone losses during summer and fall months may peak at 6-7% relative to ozone concentrations in the 1960s. Winter/spring depletion could peak at nearly twice those levels.

Vienna Convention and Skin Cancer Incidence

The 1985 Vienna Convention built a baseline for...

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