Some Quick Facts on Ozone Layer Depletion

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Among the many atmospheric layers that the Earth is divided into, Ozone layer is one of them. Ozone, an isotope of Oxygen is a bluish coloured gas with a strong odour plays an important role in protecting the Earth from the harmful UV rays of the sun. UV rays have been linked with the cause of many gene mutating factors and cancer, affecting plant and marine life as well. Although the Ozone layer has an ability to recover itself from its depletion from time to time, many man made activities have resulted in the production of harmful elements that are destroying the Ozone molecules at a rate much faster than its capable of regenerating. Ozone depletion can have serious consequences for life on Earth.

Some of the facts about Ozone Layer Depletion are:

If one can consider air to be consisting of 10 million molecules, 2 million would comprise of oxygen while only 3 would be Ozone molecules. Such is the scarcity of Ozone on Earth.

An Ozone hole was found in the Antarctic in the 1980s and various scientists after their assessments concluded that the major cause for this hole was the liberation of CFCs.

On September 16th 1987, the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty was introduced aiming to reduce the use of CFCs. The European Union and 197 other states have ratified for the treaty. According to environmentalists, ozone layer depletion and the damage done to it can be repaired by 2050 if this treaty is strictly adhered to by all the nations.

In 1995, Montreal Protocol underwent an amendment that asked for banning the production of CFCs altogether in the developed countries. The developing countries were asked to follow in within the next few years.

Some of the harmful chemicals produced by man-made activities which depletes ozone layer include methyl bromide (which is used in pesticides), CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons (from refrigerants, insulating foams and solvents), halons (from fire extinguishers) etc. Halons and Methyl Bromide are forty times more lethal than CFC’s for its release of bromine atoms.

CFCs contain chlorine which cannot be broken down by natural chemical cycles on the Earth. They rise up to the ozone layer and combine with Ozone elements to destroy the ozone layer by breaking up the ozone molecules.

Although there are many natural disasters that take place every year for releasing harmful gases in the atmosphere, they do not cause as much harm or contribute severely to the ozone layer depletion as human activities and their introduction of CFCs or Chlorofluorocarbons. While natural causes may account for a mere 16% of ozone depletion, chemical products used by humans account for 84%.

While the damage done and depletion caused in the Ozone Layer cannot be recovered completely, if every individual contributes in his or her own way in preserving the planet and not engaging in activities that are harmful to the environment positive changes can be brought about. Ending the production of CFCs, following the protocol and spreading awareness among the citizens of every nation can go a long way in restoring normalcy in the ozone levels by the year 2050.

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