Ozone Depletion

Topics: Oxygen, Ozone depletion, Sun Pages: 2 (608 words) Published: February 22, 2014
Scientific Article: The Ozone Layer
The Ozone layer is located in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. It acts as a barrier and absorbs majority of UV radiation before it hits Earth’s surface. Ozone is made up of three oxygen atoms that are naturally occurring molecules. The depletion of the ozone has become a worldwide issue and is caused by the release of CFCs into the atmosphere. CFCs release chlorine atoms which break down ozone molecules. The depletion of the ozone layer threatens to leave life on Earth unprotected from UV radiation. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) contain chlorine, fluorine and carbon atoms. CFCs can be found in spray cans, in the plastics industry and in refrigerants. When UV rays in the upper atmosphere hit CFC molecules, a carbon-chlorine bond breaks leaving a single chlorine atom. This chlorine atom reacts with the ozone molecule causing it to breakdown. The breakdown of ozone leaves an ordinary oxygen molecule (O2) as well as a chlorine monoxide molecule. Because UV radiation breaks oxygen molecules into single oxygen atoms, the single oxygen atom then breaks up the chlorine monoxide. With the chlorine atom left by itself, it is then able to repeat the process of breaking down more ozone molecules. However, the depletion of the ozone is not only caused by CFCs. Halons, CH3CCI, CCI4, HCFCs, hydrobromofluorocarbons and methyl bromide are all linked with ozone depletion leaving life on earth vulnerable to the effects from exposure to UV radiation.

With the depletion of the ozone, UV radiation becomes more accessible to life on Earth and effects from this radiation follow. Since ozone filters UV radiation, with ozone depletion comes higher levels of UV radiation hitting the surface of the Earth. The increase in ultra-violet rays consequently mean higher risk of skin cancers and cataracts in humans and animals. Higher levels of this radiation also damages materials such as plastics, harm certain crops as well as marine animals. Extra UV...
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