Chilean scientists say they are receiving reports of increases in skin allergies and sunburn among schoolchildren and of vision loss among sheep in the southernmost areas of the country. They attribute the phenomena to increased solar radiation caused by depletion of the ozone layer over the Antarctic.
Chilean researchers said they believed that the sheep were getting cataracts from exposure to ultraviolet rays that would normally be blocked by atmospheric ozone. They also expressed their concern about the long-term impact on people and animals, although no increase in skin cancer has been reported in southern Chile.
"Human survival is at stake, and for now we are the guinea pigs," said Bedrich Magas, a researcher who found rates of ultraviolet radiation up to 28 times higher than normal.