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EPA Rejects 'Hat, Sunglasses' for Ozone

May 31, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday denounced as "not serious" the idea of using hats and sunglasses to protect against ozone depletion, and the Cabinet officer who reportedly suggested it protested that he was misunderstood.

The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post reported that Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel had argued inside the Reagan Administration that increased personal protection could be an alternative to an international agreement to cut production of the chemicals that destroy the high-altitude ozone which blocks the sun's ultraviolet rays.

Hodel, however, said in an interview that he was just suggesting alternatives. "What really mischaracterizes my position is to say that I have a definite position, and I don't," Hodel said. "I don't believe we ought to box in the President. . . . We ought to provide an array of options."

Reacting to the newspaper reports, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lee M. Thomas, said in a statement: "The most effective way to solve the problem is through an international agreement to significantly reduce the amount of ozone-depleting chemicals emitted worldwide."

Asked about a sunglasses policy, EPA spokesman Chris Rice said: "Lee Thomas does not think the uses of sunglasses and hats is a serious option."

Chlorofluorocarbons--or CFCs--and related compounds used in refrigeration equipment, fire extinguishers, foam-blowing agents and cleaning solvents attack the high-altitude ozone layer that blocks much of the ultraviolet rays of the sun from reaching Earth.

The EPA estimates that each percentage point decrease in ozone concentration means an additional 200,000 cases of skin cancer worldwide each year.

Thirty-one countries, including the major producers, have tentatively agreed on a 20% cut in CFC production and are discussing ways to reach 50%.

The official U.S. position is for a 95% cut.

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