There’s good news and bad news in the ozone hole department this year. The good news is that the hole, which forms over the Antarctic in the Southern Hemisphere spring, has shrunk somewhat compared to last year’s all-time high, from 11.6 million square miles (three time the size of the U.S.) to about 10 million square miles. The bad news is that atmospheric scientists in New Zealand say the hole will last longer and expose southern nations to greater quantities of dangerous ultraviolet radiation, which is associated with skin cancers, eye problems, immunological disorders, and a host of other health and environmental problems. The hole is partially blamed for a 15 percent drop in ozone levels in the temperate zone of the Southern Hemisphere. New Zealand is among the most affected countries, along with Australia, Argentina, and Chile.

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