The Government has taken more steps to prevent spread of dangerous substances that might cause depletion of the ozone layer.
Scientific evidence indicates that stratospheric ozone is being destroyed by manufactured chemicals, containing chlorine and bromine.
The chemicals are called “ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
The main ODS are chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorcarbons, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform as well as halons.
Dr Rose Mukankomeje, the director-general of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (Rema), said new policies have been designed to prevent the substances that might cause the depletion of ozone layer.
“Importation of equipment that contain ozone depleting substances has been banned in January,” Dr Mukankomeje said.
There are particular types of equipment such as air conditioners, refrigerators and water dispensers which contain ozone-depleting substances. The importation of such was banned effective January 1.
Importation of refrigerant gas to service those already on the market is also monitored, according to Rema.
Dr Mukankomeje said before a factory opens, it has to undergo environment impact assessment to avoid all the negative impacts its operations might cause to the environment.
She said Rema would soon hire a firm to boost the control measures at key entry points such as airport, borders and Magerwa warehouse at Gikondo.
The Rema chief also said they are embarking on public awareness targeting key stakeholders such as refrigeration technicians, importers and Rwanda Bureau of Standards to check the import of equipment that generates ozone-depleting substances.
Didace Musoni, the head of data management at Rwanda Meteorology Agency, told The New Times that although the most depleting substances are produced in industrialised countries, it was imperative for Rwanda to be vigilant since depletion of ozone layer is a global challenge.
“It’s a filter that God put to protect us. However, we are worried at the rate at which it’s being depleted. This is a concern for every country and it requires international efforts to prevent dire consequences,” Musoni said.
According to research, chlorofluorocarbons– used as coolants in refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners as well as cars manufactured before 1995 –accounts for more than 80 per cent of total stratospheric ozone depletion.
It is also found in industrial solvents, dry cleaning machines and in hospital sterilants.
The ozone layer, which lies in the atmosphere between 14km and 30km above earth surface, plays a vital role in blocking destructive radiation waves which cause cancers in humans.