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Materials Damage

Ozone depletion will cause many materials to degrade faster. These materials include PVC (used in window and doorframes, pipes and gutters), nylon and polyester. They are all composed of compounds known as polymers. Synthetic polymers, naturally occurring biopolymers, as well as some other materials of commercial interest are adversely affected by UV radiation from the Sun.

Today's materials are somewhat protected from UV radiation by special additives. Therefore, any increase in UV levels as a result of ozone depletion will accelerate their breakdown, limiting their useful outdoor lifetime. UV radiation is mainly responsible for photo-damage ranging from discoloration to loss of mechanical integrity in polymers exposed to sunlight.

The use of higher levels of conventional light stabilisers in polymer-based materials is likely to be employed to minimise the effects of increased UV levels reaching the Earth's surface. However, it is not certain how resistant such light stabilisers are themselves to increased levels of UV radiation. In addition, their use will add to the cost of plastic products in target applications. With plastics rapidly displacing conventional materials in numerous applications, this is an important consideration particularly in the developing world.

It is not certain yet how other materials, including rubber, paints, wood, paper and textiles will be affected by increased UV radiation resulting from ozone depletion.