Ozone (O3) is a gas that protects every living thing on planet Earth from ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the Sun. Plants cannot grow and survive in harmful UV rays, even living things would also not survive.
The Ozone layer is mainly found in the lower portion of the Stratosphere, from approximately 15 to 35 kilometers above the earth. It acts as a shield to absorb the harmful ultraviolet rays and prevent them from doing the damage to the earth’s surface.
Chemicals such as halogens, refrigerants, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) are known as Ozone-depleting substances (ODS). These ozone-depleting chemicals include:
- chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs);
- 1,1,1-trichloroethane (methyl chloroform);
- carbon tetrachloride;
- methyl bromide;
- hydrobromofluorocarbons (HBFCs);
- hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs); and
- bromochloromethane (BCM).
These chemicals destroy ozone molecules when they meet in the Stratosphere. Ozone depletion is not only harmful to human but also harmful for animals, plants and every living being on the earth. It results in many diseases such as skin cancer, permanent blindness, and sunburn.
The Ozone layer was discovered by French physicist Charles Fabry and Henry Buisson in 1913. Every year, on September 16th, World Ozone Day is observed to share awareness and find the new solutions to fight against the threats to the Ozone layer.
The depletion of the ozone layer is a serious issue. Manufacturing of chemicals such as CFCl3, Refrigerants, Halocarbon is the main cause of ozone layer depletion.
These compounds reached into Stratosphere and destroy (O3). UV waves strike CFCl3 molecule then carbon-chlorine bond breaks, and yield a Chlorine (Cl) atom. The (Cl) atom react with (O3) molecule than O3 breaks into O2 molecule, which destroys O3.
Location of Ozone Hole
The ozone hole is a zone in the stratosphere over Antarctica. NASA satellites provide the daily pictures of it. Countries such as South Africa, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia are affected by the ozone hole. But the largest ozone hole is mainly observed in the Antarctica region with total ozone of 220 Dobson Units or lower.
Solutions to Ozone Depletion
While most of these ozone-depleting substances are used in industrial activities, however, it is everyone’s responsibility to become aware and do their bit to protect the Ozone layer because recovery of the ozone layer is a very slow and long process.
- Purchase air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment that do not contain ozone-depleting substances
- Look for the ENERGY STAR rated air conditioners and other equipment. That save power and reduce the impact on the environment.
- To reduce air pollution, avoid the use of cars. Bicycle, carpooling and walking are some of the options.
Simply put, the best contribution one can make to protect the ozone layer is to avoid buying products or make the minimal use that contains ozone-depleting substances.
Let’s continue protecting the ozone layer!
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