A recent United Nations report says recovery of Earth’s protective ozone layer is on track.

According to the report, the maximum extent of the 2022 ozone hole over Antarctica was slightly smaller than the 2021 maximum, and well below the average seen in 2006 when the hole size peaked.

A new U.N. assessment estimates the ozone hole will close by 2060.

Ozone is a small and highly reactive molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. In the stratosphere roughly 7 to 25 miles above Earth’s surface, ozone molecules absorb some of the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun, protecting biological life on Earth.

According to NOAA, ozone depletion is caused by human-produced, long-lasting compounds containing chlorine and bromine, which persist in the stratosphere and act as catalysts for destroying ozone molecules.

After recognizing that the unregulated release of these ozone-depleting substances could eventually destroy the ozone layer, the international community adopted the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to phase out chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were commonly used in refrigerators, fire extinguishers, foams and many other products.

The report found that by 2020, the amount of total chlorine entering the stratosphere from ozone-depleting substances declined 11.5% from its peak in 1993. The total amount of bromine entering the stratosphere declined 14.5% from its peak in 1999.

“This report shows that the Montreal Protocol is having a positive impact on our ozone layer, while also reducing climate effects of ozone depleting substances,” said Paul A. Newman, Chief Scientist for Earth Science at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, co-chair of the Scientific Assessment Panel.

Approximately 230 scientists from 30 countries contributed to the 2022 ozone assessment, which is led by the World Meteorological Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, NOAA, NASA and the European Commission.