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Sept 1997 Scientists have discovered that two giant plumes of ozone are appearing over the Atlantic and Pacific every year. Caused by tree and crop burning in Africa, South America and Australia, the plumes are low-lying and copld inflict severe damage on humans alid crops. Scientists have also found that ozone in the lower atmosphere is reaching intense concentrations every summer across the northem hemisphere, approaching those that would trigger health and smog alarms in cities. The world's new ozone crisis triggered by biomass burning and rising car exhaust emissions was outlined at a meeting of the Royal Society of Chemistry at Aberdeen University by Professor Sherwood Rowland, of University of Califomia, Irvine. Prof Rowland was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for research showing that chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), which are used in fridges and airconditioning plants, would disrupt ozone levels in the upper atmosphere. "When ozone appears lower in the atmosphere, near the ground, it is very hamiful indeed. By contrast, ozone in the upper atmosphere, in the stratosphere, is good because it protects us from ultra-violet radiation, said Prof Rowland. . Most public concem has focused on the plight of the upper atmosphere's layer of "good" ozone. But now Prof Rowland has tumed his attention to the danger of rising levels of "bad" ozone. "We know the extent of the upper atmosphere's ozone depletion, he said, but this new ozone problem is more worrying because its causes forest clearing, crop bunting and car use are fundamental aspects of life. At the tum of the century, scientists in Paris measured atmospheric ozone for that time and found levels of 16, parts a billion. Last summer, in latitudes' between 30 and 50 degrees north, levels reached 60 parts a billion, and they, continue to rise. Flying over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, researchers discovered two massive plumes of air containing ozone at between 100 and 130 parts a billion.These plumes, created by forest burnt ing in Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana, and crop burning in Brazil and north Australia, appear every summer. Each is more than a one and a half kilometres thick, dozens of ldlometres' broad and hundreds of Idlometres long. Prof Rowland said the potential for damage was enormous. People are made sick by ozone and crops get mined. OBSERVER