Ozone is a naturally occurring substance which was first made in the laboratory in 1839 by German scientist Christan Friedrich Schonbein. It is the common term for the high concentration of ozone that is found in the stratosphere around 15–30km above the earth’s surface. It covers the entire planet and protects life on earth by absorbing harmful ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation from the sun. UV-B is a kind of ultraviolet light from the sun that has several harmful effects. It has been linked to many harmful effects, including skin cancers, cataracts, and harm to some crops and marine life.
The ozone hole has developed because people have polluted the atmosphere with chemicals containing chlorine and bromine. When chlorine and bromine atoms come into contact with ozone in the stratosphere, they destroy ozone molecules. One chlorine atom can destroy over 100,000 ozone molecules before it is removed from the stratosphere.
Ozone can be destroyed more quickly than it is naturally created.
Some compounds release chlorine or bromine when they are exposed to intense UV light in the stratosphere. These compounds contribute to ozone depletion, and are called ozone-depleting substances.
Although these substances are emitted at the Earth’s surface, they are eventually carried into the stratosphere in a process that can take as long as two to five years.
So till now we understood that the ozone layer is really depleting. Now lets see what are the harmful effects of ozone layer.
Reduced ozone levels as a result of ozone depletion mean less protection from the sun’s rays and more exposure to UV-B radiation at the Earth’s surface.
Effects on human health
Ozone layer depletion increases the amount of UV-B that reaches the Earth’s surface. Laboratory and epidemiological studies demonstrate that UV-B causes non-melanoma skin cancer and plays a major role in malignant melanoma development. In addition.
Effects on plants
Indirect changes caused by UV-B (such as changes in plant form, how nutrients are distributed within the plant, timing of developmental phases and secondary metabolism) may be equally or sometimes more important than damaging effects of UV-B. These changes can have important implications for plant competitive balance, herbivory, plant diseases, and biogeochemical cycles.
Effects on Marine Ecosystem
UV-B radiation has been found to cause damage to early developmental stages of fish, shrimp, crab, amphibians, and other marine animals. The most severe effects are decreased reproductive capacity and impaired larval development. Small increases in UV-B exposure could result in population reductions for small marine organisms with implications for the whole marine food chain.
Therefore we need to prevent the ozone layer from depleting by following ways :
1. Minimize the use of cars.
2. Do not use toxic cleaning products that are harmful to the environment and to us.
3. Maintain air conditioners, as their malfunctions cause chlorofluorocarbons to escape into the atmosphere.