Depletion of Ozone layer and its effects on universe
Ozone is a blue color gas which protects the living things on earth by absorbing ultraviolet radiations, which can cause skin cancer and damage the vegetation. It is located in the stratosphere. According to research, the ozone layer is slowly depleting.
Ozone is composed of three oxygen atoms and is stable molecule. It has strong pungent odor and is highly reactive. Electric discharges in air often produce huge quantities of O3.
When ultraviolet radiations hit the stratosphere, oxygen molecules dissociate into atomic oxygen (O). Atomic oxygen (O) quickly combines with other oxygen molecules (O2) and thus ozone (O3) is formed. Ozone can split and regenerate quickly. It is available in higher concentrations in upper atmosphere. Its concentration decreases at lower altitudes.
Ozone is depleted when the natural balance between the production and destruction of stratospheric ozone is disturbed. The natural phenomenon leads to temporary ozone loss. Now the bromine and chlorine released from man-made compounds like CFC’s which are main cause of depletion.
The ozone layer is continuously depleting and humans are responsible for it. Our factories emit chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s). When these CFC’s reach the stratosphere, the sunlight breaks down them and the breakdown products destroy the ozone. The chlorine atoms from CFC’s attack the ozone, taking away ozone and forming chlorine monoxide. Chlorine monoxide combines with another oxygen atom to form new oxygen molecule and chlorine atom. This chlorine atom is free to destroy up to 100,000 ozone molecules.
There is stratospheric ozone over Antarctica which has been depleted over the last 15 years. The ozone hole is gradually enlarging. It is large enough to cover most of the North America. It would take around 50 years to restore this ozone layer.
The destruction of ozone layer has harmful effects on human health. It can cause sunburn, eye diseases and skin cancer. It reduces our immune system and causes suppression of immunity. In plants, it reduces photosynthesis and crops are affected. It kills plankton and is harmful for fish. It also reduces the percentage of hatching of aquatic life.
In the stratosphere, most of the ozone is formed over the equator where the level of sunshine are greater. It is then transported towards higher latitudes by wind. Normally, higher ozone levels are found in Canadian Arctic and Siberia.
There is steady decline of around 4% in the total volume of ozone in stratosphere of earth since 1970. There is also seasonal decrease in stratospheric ozone over Earth’s Polar Regions. It is commonly referred as ozone hole.
In 22nd march 1985, an international convention was held in Vienna to take remedial actions against ozone depletion. As a result an agreement was done in 1987 in the form of treaty known as the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer and it was agreed to completely stop the use of chlorofluorocarbons.
Some countries of the world has banned the use of chlorofluorocarbons as aerosol propellants. The scientists have proposed the alternatives of chlorofluorocarbons which are ammonia, water and propane. These are cheap because they are abundant and are not patented.
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