The Importance of the Ozone
"Like an infection that grows more and more virulent, the continent-size hole in Earth's ozone layer keeps getting bigger and bigger"(Beyond Discovery). The ozone is a protective layer that occurs naturally in the stratosphere, 6 to 28 miles in altitude. Each year, since the late 1970's, much of the ozone layer above Antarctica has disappeared, creating what is popularly known as the "ozone hole." This hole now measures about 9 million square miles, nearly the size of North America. Less dramatic, but still significant, depletion of ozone levels has been recorded around the globe. With less ozone in the atmosphere, more ultraviolet radiation strikes Earth, causing more skin cancer, eye damage, and possible harm to crops.
The main causes of ozone depletion are chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's), such as coolants, aerosols, and fire extinguishers. When CFC's are released, they rise into the ozone layer. The UV (ultraviolet) radiation then releases chlorine from the CFC's. Chlorine is a chemical that disintegrates the ozone. Other everyday items that contribute
to the devastation of the ozone include household refrigerants and exhaust fumes emitted from automobiles.
Without the ozone layer the health of every single living being on planet Earth would be jeopardized. Ozone depletion leads to an increased exposure to ultraviolet light, which can cause many health problems. Exposure to ultraviolet light greatly increases the risks of skin cancer and cataract development. Skin cancers are very treatable in their early stages but very deadly in the advanced stages. Cataracts are growths in the eyes that cloud vision and can lead to blindness. Increased UV exposure also causes decreased growth of phytoplankton. This is the light-sensitive organism that not only forms the base of the ocean's food web, but also is responsible for removing much of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Last, a thinning ozone...
Cited: Beyond Discovery, The Ozone Depletion Phenomenon. 1998. National
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