Ozone

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Ozone is an irritating, blue gas with a smell like burning electrical wiring. Most people wouldn’t think this gas would be so important, but without it, no living thing would be able to survive on Earth. Ozone (O3) is made up of 3 oxygen atoms. Normal oxygen (O2) is colorless and odorless. In the troposphere, ozone is pollutant and greenhouse gas, but in the stratosphere, it is a necessity for life on Earth. This layer of O3 protects earth from the Sun's poisonous, ultraviolet radiation. There is less ozone than oxygen in our atmosphere. In 10 million molecules, 2 million would be oxygen, and only 3 would be ozone. Ozone destruction usually happens at the same rate as ozone creation. In recent decades, this system became unbalanced.

The ozone layer is being destroyed by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons, methyl bromide, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform. Every year, humans contribute 84% to the destruction of ozone, while nature contributes only 16%. All of the properties that make CFCs useful make them harmful as well. They’re nonreactive, so they travel into the stratosphere unchanged. Once there, ultra-violet light (UV) breaks them down into pieces. Chlorine (Cl), one of those pieces, separates one of the O ions away from the O3 molecules. That creates an O2 molecule, or regular oxygen. Without its third atom, the O2 molecule doesn’t protect Earth from UV radiation anymore. The Cl from one CFC molecule can destroy 100,000 ozone molecules before it’s destroyed.

Ozone levels are now decreasing dramatically over Antarctica. In 2006, ozone levels were at record low for Antarctica. This ozone hole was almost 11.4 million miles, more than 3 times the size of the United States! The ozone hole is not a literal hole; it’s an area of stratosphere with low ozone. Ozone levels fall by over 60% during the worst years.

Skin cancer is strongly linked to how much UVB you absorb. In the USA, it is estimated that a 1% loss of ozone causes rise of 3% in non-melanoma skin cancers and a 1% rise in fatal melanomas. Higher UV exposure is also increasing eye damage. High doses of UV causes "snow-blindness," a temporary damage that disappears after few hours, but to much exposure brings about cataracts. Increased UV may also cause immune system damage.

Not only are there issues with stratosphere ozone, but there are also issues with ozone in the troposphere. It’s created in lower atmosphere when pollutants cook in the sun. In North Carolina, ozone is the most widespread air quality problem because ozone irritates people’s lungs

The identification of Antarctic ozone hole made this threat seem real. For the first time, world leaders mobilized around an environmental issue. In 1978, the USA and most Scandinavian countries banned CFCs in spray cans. CFCs have been illegal in developed countries since 1995. It will be illegal in developing nations by 2010. Some CFC substitutes have other environmental issues. For example, HCFCs are powerful greenhouse gases. Now, HCFCs, which aren't as bad as other chemicals, are on the following “phase-out” schedule for developed nations: in 2004, 35% will be gone, in 2010, 65% will be gone, in 2015: 90%, in 2020: 99.5%, and in 2030: 100%. The final 0.5% will be only for desperate needs. Hopefully, based on calculations, the ozone layer will be like it was before1980 in 2068. Global ozone levels will be the way they were before1950, in 100-200 years. It is estimated that the international ban on ozone-depleting chemicals will prevent 1.5 million skin cancer cases each year in the USA alone.

Helping solve all of our ozone issues isn’t going to be easy and the results may take awhile to show. However, if the ozone layer is destroyed completely, there will be no life on Earth and we humans will be at fault. Even if it’s not completely demolished, there will be many more cases of skin cancer and life on Earth would decrease dramatically. That’s why it’s so important that we make an effort to stop the damage we’re doing to the ozone layer.





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Hutchinsonj said...
Sept. 24, 2009 at 8:38 pm
I agree with you that people should stop the damage of the ozone layer. In one of your quotes, you put the following, "In 2006, ozone levels were at record low for Antarctica." That may be true but the hole will eventually have to regenerate. The banned use of CFCs will greatly reduce the amount of ozone destroyed. You also said the following quote, "Chlorine (CL), one of those pieces, separates one of the O ions away from the O3 molecules. That creates an O2 molecule, or reg... (more »)
 
CrazyClimber replied...
Sept. 25, 2009 at 2:51 pm
Thats true, but i wanted to use facts that arent common knowledge. before my research, i didnt know about clorine and its damaging properaties. and yes, the hole in antartica will regenerate but very very slowly. it will probably be a couple hundred years until it heal completely
 
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