Some substances in air pollution can harm Earth’s protective ozone layer. We call these ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

Manufacturers have used a variety of ODS in products including:

  • fridges and air conditioners
  • fire extinguishers
  • foam
  • aerosol propellants
  • fumigation of soil, and goods for import or export.

ODS can include:

  • chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • halon
  • carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)
  • methyl chloroform (CH3CCl3)
  • hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • methyl bromide (CH3Br)
  • bromochloromethane (CH2BrCl).

Why ODS are harmful

ODS react with the ozone layer. The ozone layer is a layer of gas surrounding the Earth. This layer absorbs ultra-violet radiation (UV) from the sun. ODS can reduce its ability to absorb UV.

UV can cause harm to human health. Research has a linked UV to skin cancer. Excess UV can harm the environment, ecosystems and even crop production.

Australia has phased out production of most ozone depleting substances.

Read more about ozone

Ozone in the air

Protecting the ozone layer

Read more about climate change 

Protecting the ozone layer 

Reviewed 28 February 2020