Ozone

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Ozone

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The Stratospheric ozone shields the earth’s surface from any potentially dangerous ultraviolet light radiating from the sun. In addition, this Stratospheric ozone allows for our earth’s temperature to be stabled as it absorbs most ultraviolet rays from the sun limiting the amount of heat entering our earth. This prevents the earth from exposure harsh radiations that would damage if not destroy our planet. But, as certain pollutants accumulate in our atmosphere the Stratospheric ozone is beginning to weaken. Chemicals called Cholera Flora Carbons (CFC) are the primary culprits in the ozone layer breakdown. The elements in CFC are Carbon, Chlorine, and Fluorine and are primarily found in plastic products and refrigerants. When CFCs are exposed to ultraviolet rays in the atmosphere they break apart splitting into substances that include chlorine, which then bonds to the oxygen atoms in the ozone completely tearing apart the initial ozone layer. Without the ozone layer, UV waves of approximately 300-200 nm wavelengths could enter our atmosphere along with harmful radiations. Ozone depletion can also cause marine life destruction and would disturb plant life cycles. As for humans, more exposure to UV increases the risk of skin cancer, blindness, and cataracts. Furthermore, seasons play a role in Ozone depletion. Ozone depletion occurs fastest in cooler temperatures resulting in the ozone hole reaching a maximum at the end of southern hemisphere winter. What this means is that the South Pole region gets most affected with the thinnest layer of the ozone creating what is known as an “ozone hole.” Relievingly, many reparations have come into place resulting in great results over the past few years. In the year of 1989, the Montreal protocol was passed banning production of ozone-depleting substances from being produced. Since then the amount of chlorine in the atmosphere at the earth surface has been falling significantly. Scientists estimate that chlorine levels will return to the natural state in about 50 years. The reason chlorine is being measured is that chlorine is the overall substance bonding with the oxygens destroying the ozone layer. Estimated by Nasa, in 50 years the Arctic ozone hole will shrink smaller than 8 million square miles. Therefore, change has been made and serious improvement has occurred and will continue to occur as the Montreal protocol continues. Yet despite the benefits the Montreal protocol might have, there is another Ozone located at ground level of the Troposphere countering any improvements the Montreal protocol might be making. This Troposphere Ozone is completely man-made Ozone accumulating about 30 meters above the earth’s ground. This is caused by the burning of fossil fuels like gasoline into our atmosphere as they bond with oxygen resulting in another Ozone layer. These pollutants get into the stratosphere furthering ozone depletion. Therefore although the  Montreal protocol is a great first step, it’s only a first step. And if we want to see the major change we must work together to further mitigate pollutants in our atmosphere and fix ozone depletion once and for all.

 

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