The Health Journal column on melanoma March 23 cites various reasons for the continuing rise in the incidence of melanoma, including ozone depletion. However, melanoma has been increasing steadily for at least the past 60 years, ever since statistical records have been kept for this malignant form of skin cancer--long before there was concern about the stratospheric ozone layer.
Melanoma incidence shows little variation with latitude, while solar ultraviolet-B radiation, often blamed for causing melanoma, increases by about 300 PC in going from New England to South Florida. Experiments by Dr. Richard Setlow have shown conclusively that melanoma is primarily due to UV-A radiation, which, unlike UV-B, is not absorbed by ozone and varies little with latitude.
In spite of the fact that ozone depletion is not relevant to melanoma, the EPA still insists that banning the production of CFCs to avoid the health effects of a modest ozone depletion will produce benefits of up to $32 trillion, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of 1,000-to-one.
S. Fred Singer, Ph.D.
The Science & Environmental Policy Project
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