The Ozone Layer, a very popular term when it comes to the study of the atmosphere. The ozone layer plays an important role in prohibiting ultraviolet rays from reaching the earth as they are harmful to health. The ozone layer is important for us. Let’s know more about the ozone layer and its depletion.
WHAT IS THE OZONE LAYER?
The ozone layer is a region in the earth’s atmosphere that comprises high concentrations of ozone and protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet radiations from the sun. The ozone layer is found in the lower portion of the atmosphere of the earth. The ozone layer can absorb about 97 to 99 % of ultraviolet radiation from the sun that can even damage the life on the earth.
The ultraviolet rays can contribute to the development of several skin diseases and weaken the immune systems. However, some scientists have discovered a hole in the ozone layer that has been termed ozone layer depletion.
WHAT IS OZONE LAYER DEPLETION?
Ozone layer depletion basically means the gradual thinning of the ozone layer of the earth’s upper atmosphere that is caused due to the chemical compounds generated from human activities and industries. This ozone layer depletion occurs when the atoms of chlorine and bromine come in contact with the ozone layer and destroy the ozone molecules. A molecule of chlorine can destroy the 100,000 molecules of ozone. The molecules are destroyed more rapidly than they are created.
Certain compounds release chlorine and bromine on exposure to high ultraviolet rays, which contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. The compounds that contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer are known as Ozone Depleting substances (ODS). These substances that contain chlorine include hydrochlorofluorocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform. Whereas the substances that contain bromine include methyl bromide, halo, and hydro Bromo fluorocarbons.
Moreover, in 1987, Montreal Protocol was proposed to stop the use, production, and import of the ozone-depleting substances and minimize their concentration in the atmosphere to protect the ozone layer of the earth from getting depleted.
CAUSES OF OZONE LAYER DEPLETION
The ozone layer depletion results from so many factors and activities and is also one of the major concerns. The main causes that are responsible for the ozone layer depletion are-
- Chlorofluorocarbons- CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons are the main cause of ozone layer depletion. The CFCs are released from air conditioners, refrigerators, spray aerosols, solvents, and so on. The molecules of chlorofluorocarbons present in the stratosphere are broken down by the ultraviolet radiations and release the chlorine atoms. Then these atoms react with the ozone and destroy it completely.
- Nitrogenous compounds- The compounds such as NO2, No, or N2O are majorly responsible for ozone layer depletion.
- Unregulated Rocket Launches- As per the researches, the unregulated launching of rockets leads to the depletion of the ozone layer even more than that CFCs do. Moreover, if this is not controlled, this will result in a huge loss until 2050.
- Natural Causes- It has been found that the depletion of the ozone layer is also caused due to natural processes such as stratospheric winds and Sun-spots. But it does not cause more than 1 to 2 % of depletion in the ozone layer. Sometimes, volcanic eruptions too may be the cause of the depletion of the ozone layer.
Also Read, Global warming- a threat to society
EFFECTS OF OZONE LAYER DEPLETION
There can be harmful effects of ozone layer depletion on the environment as well as humans.
EFFECTS OF OZONE LAYER DEPLETION ON HUMAN HEALTH
Human health will directly suffer from the depletion of the ozone layer. Due to the depletion of the ozone layer, the ultraviolet rays directly reach the earth, resulting in serious health issues such as quick aging, skin diseases, cancer, sunburns, cataracts, etc.
EFFECTS OF OZONE LAYER DEPLETION ON ANIMALS
The depletion of the ozone layer leads to the entrance of ultraviolet rays on the earth, resulting in the various health issues of the animals, too, such as skin and eye cancer.
EFFECTS OF OZONE LAYER DEPLETION ON ENVIRONMENT
The depletion of the ozone layer and the entry of ultraviolet radiations on the earth lead to minimal growth, flowering, and photosynthesis in plants. The forests have to bear the harmful effects of UV radiation.
EFFECTS OF OZONE LAYER DEPLETION ON MARINE LIFE
Planktons are also affected by ultraviolet radiations, and planktons only form the higher part of the aquatic food chain. If the planktons get destroyed by UV radiation, the other aquatic animals will also be affected.
SOLUTIONS TO OZONE LAYER DEPLETION
The ozone layer depletion is a serious issue. So many programs have been launched by the government to initiate the steps that can reduce ozone layer depletion. These steps or solutions include-
Avoid the use of ODS- The use of ozone-depleting substances should be avoided so that they can not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. This can be done by voiding CFCs in refrigerators, replacing the fire extinguishers with a large amount of halo.
Minimize the use of vehicles- The minimal use of vehicles is also one of the solutions to control and avoid the depletion of the ozone layer. As the vehicle’s release, many greenhouse gases that contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer will be minimized, and so will the ozone layer depletion.
Use of eco-friendly cleaning products- The use of eco-friendly cleaning products helps reduce the depletion of the ozone layer. As most of the cleaning products comprise chlorine and bromine, which, when replaced by natural ingredients, will not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.