Causes, Effects, and Solutions of The Ozone Layer Depletion

Much like our clothes, Our Earth has a layer on it that protects life on earth from the destructive ultraviolet rays of the sun.

This is the Ozone layer which lies in the earth’s stratosphere region, protecting us from the sun’s radiation. 

The Ozone layer is very important for the earth! If it was not present, people would have been prone to different skin diseases and develop very weak immune systems.

The Ozone layer is said to have high concentrations of the Ozone gas. This gives it the natural capability of absorbing almost 99% of the destructive ultraviolet radiations from the sun. It has been protecting us since so long and we don’t even realize it! 

Nevertheless, the Ozone layer is actually in danger as it may develop holes in it very soon. The gas is thinning out across the polar regions of Earth, which is known as the Ozone Hole.

The slow thinning of Ozone layer in the upper atmosphere will release harmful chemical substances throughout the planet, thus causing Ozone layer depletion

What is Ozone Layer Depletion?

The gradual thinning of the Ozone layer available in the upper atmosphere is referred to as the Ozone layer depletion.

The process takes place when the atoms of bromine and chlorine present in the atmosphere come across the ozone, resulting in the destruction of ozone molecules.

The ratio is said to be 1:100,000; as a single atom of chlorine can destroy up to 100,000 molecules of ozone. This is how fast the ozone layer is being destroyed. 

There are substances known as Ozone depleting substances which consist of compounds that let out bromine and chlorine in contact with high ultraviolet light which leads to ozone layer depletion.

Chlorofluorocarbon, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, methyl chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride are the chlorine substances that play their part in depletion of the Ozone layer.

The most ample ozone-depleting substance is the chlorofluorocarbon. 

6 Major Causes of the Ozone Layer Depletion

1. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Chlorofluorocarbons are the prime cause of Ozone layer depletion. They are mainly released in the atmosphere through human activities and the use of industrial products.

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Products like industrial solvents, spray aerosols, soaps, insulating foams, and household utilities like the refrigerators and air conditioners release chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere.

Eventually, these substances gather in the atmosphere and lead their way to the stratospheric ozone. 

Then, when the chlorofluorocarbons have reached the stratospheric ozone, the UV radiation of the sun work towards breaking the molecules of chlorofluorocarbons which result in the release of chlorine atoms.

Moreover, these chlorine atoms come in contact with stratospheric ozone and damage it leading to ozone depletion.

2. The Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)

As previously mentioned, there are some chemicals which are termed as the ozone depleting substances through which the good ozone is being destroyed.

Some examples include: chemical used in the making of pesticides called methyl bromide, methyl chloroform present in industrial solvents, and use of halons in the making of fire extinguishers.

Unfortunately, the ODS also react with the ozone causing damage to the good ozone molecule which leads to ozone depletion. 

3. Unsupervised Rocket Launches 

Rocket launches are also one of the main reasons of ozone depletion. These rocket launches are not controlled by the law which is why they are proving to be dangerous even more than the CFCs.

It has been researched that if this continues, the ozone layer will face a massive amount of destruction by the year 2050. 

4. Global Warming 

On its own, global warming is said to be a huge threat to the earth. Moreover, it has been playing a part in ozone layer depletion as well in essence to climate change.

As mentioned before, ozone layer lies in the stratosphere; there is a layer below the stratosphere known as troposphere where the heat is being trapped as a result of global warming and the green house effect.

Due to the heat being trapped in the troposphere, it does not reach the stratosphere where ozone lies; ozone needs the heat to overcome the depletion, hence, it fails to do so.

Therefore, the earth is facing uncalled climate change. This is the whole process that takes place in the atmosphere causing stratospheric ozone depletion. 

5. Other Chemicals 

Some other chemicals present in the atmosphere as a result of human activities also cause the depletion of ozone layer.

There are nitrogenous chemicals released in the atmosphere like NO, NO2, etc; which aid in ozone loss. 

6. Natural Causes 

There are some reasons due to which the ozone layer is being depleted naturally. They include volcanic eruptions, stratospheric winds, and sun spots. Although it is just 1-2%, it is still something that is destroying the ozone layer.

The natural causes do not even matter as much as the artificial causes because artificial causes are the ones for which we are to blame.

With the growing world and everything being advanced, mother nature is being affected and most people are not even aware of it. 

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What are the Effects of Ozone Layer Depletion? 

Ultraviolet radiation is not good for us humans, nor is it good for the environment.

With the Ozone layer being depleted, there are a lot of harmful effects it is leaving us with. It plays a part in the increase of global warming as well as in destroying life on earth.

The UV rays reaching the earth’s surface are causing a number of contagious diseases which is a very big threat to human life. In addition, it is also affecting the quality of air we breath in, leading to a lot of health issues. 

1. Ozone Layer Depletion Effects on Eyes

There is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye known as cataract; which is the most common reason of blindness throughout the world.

When there is 1% decrease in the Ozone level, there is said to be an increase of around 0.6% in cataract. Hence, ozone layer depletion aids in increasing blindness. 

Moreover, there are oxidative agents formed through the ultraviolet radiation that are harmful for the lens as well as the cornea of our eyes. 

2. Ozone Layer Depletion Effects on Skin 

Ultraviolet radiation is also harmful for the skin and constant exposure to it can lead to developing a skin cancer. Our skin is the first thing that comes in contact with ultraviolet radiation, hence, it is at a risk of developing skin diseases.

Melanoma and non-melanoma are the two main types of skin cancers. The most fatal one is melanoma while non-melanoma is a not much of a serious kind. Exposure to the ultraviolet rays can cause sun burn as well as something as serious as breast cancer and leukaemia. 

People who have thin skins have a greater possibility of getting skin problems than the people who have thick skin, as the ultraviolet rays penetrate through the skin.

Also, the ultraviolet radiation is much higher in the summer, hence, the chances of people getting affected by it are increased. 

3. Ozone Layer Depletion and its Effects on the Immunity Level of Humans

Getting caught by diseases and being exposed to the high intensity ultraviolet radiation can lead to a weaker immune system in the long run.

The UV radiation produces some infectious cells in the body that weakens the immune system. As the ozone layer is being depleted, there is a high-level decrease in the immunity of humans. 

4. Effects of Ozone Layer Depletion on Human DNA and Lungs

Our DNA can also be a victim of ultraviolet radiation as to the fact that it damages the biomolecules present in our DNA such as proteins, lipids, and Nucleic acids.

Furthermore, constant exposure to ultraviolet radiation develops cancerous cells in our body which bring about errors during DNA replication and disturb the base of it.

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Our lungs are also affected by the ultraviolet radiation. Diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, etc are all the aftermath of ultraviolet radiation. 

5. Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide on Human Health

Due to the ultraviolet rays penetrating through the earth’s atmosphere, there is a decrease in oxygen molecule which is very alarming for us.

The process results in the formation of hydrogen peroxide which has its adverse effects on humans.

Hydrogen peroxide is toxic and makes the water polluted which is not good for us to drink or use. 

6. Effects on the Crops

Ozone layer depletion is also aiding in a food shortage on earth. Ultraviolet radiation is very harmful for the crops as their productivity is being interrupted. There is food on earth because of the crops and if they will be disturbed like this then there will be a food shortage very soon! 

Innovative Solutions to Ozone Layer Depletion 

Below are some important steps that we can follow in order to prevent the depletion of ozone layer:

1. Minimise the Use of ODS 

We should all work towards eliminating the ozone depleting chemicals through avoiding products that contain chlorofluorocarbons and try to use more environmental friendly products. 

2. Reduce the Use of Vehicles 

The emission of harmful greenhouse gases in the air leads to global warming, bad air quality, and ozone layer depletion.

Hence, we should try to minimize the use of vehicles and work towards safeguarding our environment. 

3. Use of Eco-friendly Products 

Harmful chemicals like bromine and chlorine should be avoided as much as we can, therefore, we should use products that do not contain these chemicals.

We should find creative and natural ways to cleaning as a substitute for the harmful cleaning products. 

4. Eliminate the Use of Nitrous Oxide 

Most of the pesticides and fertilisers that are used in the production of crops cause the presence of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere.

Nitrous oxide causes ozone destruction, hence, we should work towards finding ways to avoid it. Government should play their part in forming laws in order to protect the environment. 

Conclusion

The Ozone layer is essential for the earth and which is why ozone layer protection is necessary. We should find alternatives to the things that aid in the depletion of ozone layer such as the chlorofluorocarbons. 

In order to avoid the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation, we should be careful and do the necessary things to be safe and stay away from skin and eye problems.

Every single effort done counts, which is why it is everyone’s responsibility to play ones part sincerely and prevent the depletion of ozone layer.

The World Ozone Day is celebrated on 16th of September in order to make people aware of the depletion of ozone layer and the harmful effects of it.

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