The Depletion of the Ozone Layer

Topics: Ozone depletion, Ozone layer, Chlorofluorocarbon Pages: 2 (685 words) Published: September 7, 2013
The depletion of the ozone layer is a major concern today. The ozone layer protects us from the harmful rays of the sun; therefore it is imperative that we preserve it. Since more pollutants are produced today than ever before (because of the major increase in the population), there is a major concern that we create less pollutants to help conserve the ozone layer. Most atmospheric ozone is concentrated in a layer in the stratosphere, about 15 to 30 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. Ozone is a molecule containing three oxygen atoms. The ozone layer absorbs the portion of ultraviolet light from sun’s radiation. UVB has been linked to many harmful effects including various types of skin cancer, cataracts, and harm to some crops, certain materials, and some forms of marine life. At any given time, ozone molecules are constantly formed and destroyed in the stratosphere by natural processes. The total amount, however, remains relatively stable. Recently, however, convincing scientific evidence has shown that the ozone layer shield is being depleted well beyond changes due to natural processes. Thinning of the ozone layer has been caused by a variety of ozone destroying chemicals released by human activities. More than half the damage has been caused by chlorofluorocarbons.

Chlorofluorocarbons, (CFCs), were once thought of as miracle substances. They are stable, non-flammable, low in toxicity, and inexpensive to produce. Over time, CFCs found uses as refrigerants, solvents, foam blowing agents, and in smaller applications. There are no natural processes that will remove the CFCs from the lower atmosphere. But, the CFCs can be broken down by exposure to strong UV radiation. When that happens, the CFC molecule releases atomic chlorine. One chlorine molecule can destroy over 100,000 ozone molecules. Gaseous emissions of CFCs, both during manufacturing processes and later, from finished products have caused atmospheric levels of chlorine to dramatically increase....
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