The Air We Breathe (Com 150)

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What is it that everything on the planet relies on? Everything on the planet earth relies on how the ozone layer is affected. The air we breathe, the food we eat and the water that we drink. Hopefully by explaining how chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) and other chemicals that causes damage to the ozone, which in turn causes skin cancer and other health related issues, it will help humanity better understand what needs to be done to try and save the planet.

Holes, in the ozone layer? How did that happen? There is a chemical called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that travels to the upper atmosphere and breakdowns the protective ozone layer. CFC’s is a man made chemical that has been found in many different items. Here are some example, refrigerants, and solvents in the electric industry, in fire extinguishers, dry cleaning solvents, and degreasing agents and in foam packing and insulation materials. CFC’s were used because in the troposphere they were completely unreactive and did not affect human health. This gave it a long atmospheric lifetime. What scientists did not realize is that the CFC’s were broken down by the UV radiation from the sun. (Dr. Elmar Uherek - Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany.)

The stratospheric ozone absorbs the ultra-violet radiation as a result it does not reach the troposphere. What this means is the ultra-violet (UV) light that reaches the earths surface is too weak to breakdown the CFC’s present. Significant amounts of CFC’s have entered the stratosphere and the ultra-violet radiation is strong enough to break the down into a reactive chlorine and fluorine, which is very capable of destroying the ozone. (Dr. John Cowley, 2004-05-06, Rajendra Shende, 2003-10-06 Hendrik Forster and students, March 2004 ) The ozone levels under natural conditions are consistent because they have been formed and destroyed by the ultra-violet light. When the ozone concentration increases, so does the amount of ozone-destroyed increases. The chlorine radicals only react to destroy the ozone. The reason for this is they act as a catalyst they are recycled and continue to react with the other ozone molecules and destroy them. (6th paragraph

Here are a few questions that are still being debated over to this day. “Is the amount of ozone depletion significant enough to warrant government regulations? The controversy surrounding the ozone depletion is there enough information on CFC’s to ban them? Is the amount of ozone depletion significant enough to warrant government regulations? With the additional amounts of ultra-violet exposure affect humans, directly or indirectly?” (G.Taubes ''The Ozone Backlash'' Science vol.260, June 11th, 1993)

Is the amount of ozone depletion significant enough to warrant government regulations? Some scientist think there is not enough information to support the issue. Some scientists do. S.F Singers argues no for many reasons. This scientist states that there is insufficient information to show that the downward trend is caused by other factors and not natural causes. Singer also states that there is enough information to show that CFC’s is one of the main causes of the ozone depletion. The roles of the nitrogen-oxides and other like chemicals are not very well understood and warrant further research. The biggest worry Singer has is: what if all this turns out to be nothing and the money that has been spent on the research would have been a waste. P.Zurer argues yes for many reasons as well. P.Zurer states that a minute amount of CFC’s can deplete a large amount of our ozone layer and create big problems. There is sufficient amount of proof the scientist have that can prove CFC is the main cause of the ozone issues, as well as other know chemicals that have played a role in the depletion of the ozone layer. CFC’s can take many years before it reaches the stratosphere. This...
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