The Ozone Layer
photo taken from williamsclass.com
The ozone layer is a layer in the Earth’s atmosphere. which contains high concentrations of ozone (O3). The atmosphere is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by the Earth’s gravity. There is no definite boundary between the atmosphere and outer space. It slowly becomes thinner and fades into space. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, reducing temperature extremes between day and night and warming the surface through heat retention. The Karman line, at 100km (62 miles), is frequently regarded as the boundary between the atmosphere and outer space.
The ozone layer absorbs 93-99% of the sun’s high frequency ultraviolet light, which would otherwise harm life on Earth. Over 91% of the ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere is present in this layer. The ozone layer can be depleted by free radical catalysts such as nitric oxide (NO), atomic chlorine (CI), hydroxyl (OH) and atomic bromine (Br). The concentrations of chlorine and bromine have increased markedly in recent years due to the large quantities of man-made organohalogen compounds, especially chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and bromofluorocarbons. Unless you know your Chemistry, I know it may be difficult to understand exactly what all those compounds are. That is why I will list a bunch of man-made products that relate to these compounds. These compounds are able to rise to the stratosphere, which is the second major layer of Earth’s atmosphere. In the end, as a result of these compounds making its way up into the Earth’s stratosphere, it initiates the breakdown of over 100,000 ozone molecules. This breakdown results in the ozone molecules not being able to absorb ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation is not good for life on Earth. This causes sunburn and forms of skin cancer. More exposure to radiation results in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eyes, and the immune system which protects your body from harmful bacteria.
Products that are made from chlorofluorocarbons are flame retardants, fire extinguishers, refrigerators, propellants and solvents. So next time you are shopping for any new appliances, be sure to check if can be possibly harmful to the ozone layer, which is protecting life on Earth.
For more information on the ozone layer and how to save it from depletion, visit the following links below.
Works Cited/Further Reading