Ozone layer depletion is one of the most serious problems faced by our planet earth. It is also one of the prime reasons which are leading to global warming. Ozone is a colourless gas which is found in the stratosphere of our upper atmosphere. The layer of ozone gas is what which protects us from the harmful ultraviolet radiations of the sun. The ozone layer absorbs these harmful radiations and thus prevents these rays from entering the earth’s atmosphere. Ultraviolet radiations are high energy electromagnetic waves emitted by the sun which if enters the earth’s atmosphere can lead to various environmental issues including global warming, and also a number of health related issues for all living organisms. Thanks to the ozone layer which protects us from these harmful rays.
CFCs or Chlorofluorocarbons are the main reason for the ozone depletion. CFCs leads to almost 80% of total ozone depletion. There are many other substances that lead to ozone layer depletion such as hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Such substances are found in vehicular emissions, by-products of industrial processes, aerosols and refrigerants. All these ozone depleting substances remain stable in the lower atmospheric region, but as they reach the stratosphere, they get exposed to the ultra violet rays. This leads to their breakdown and releasing of free chlorine atoms which reacts with the ozone gas, thus leading to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Effects of Ozone Depletion
- The depletion of ozone layer has trickle down effects in the form of global warming, which in turn leads to melting of polar ice, which will lead to rising sea levels and climatic changes around the world.
- Skin Cancer: Exposure to UV rays can cause several types of skin disease including Skin cancer. Malignant melanoma, basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common cancers caused by exposure to UV rays.
- Eye Damage: UV rays are harmful for our eyes too. Direct exposure to UV rays can lead to Cataract problems, and also Photokeratitis or snow blindness.
The ozone layer is what saves the Earth and the living organisms from the harmful radiations of the sun. It is necessary to understand its importance and work to control the depletion of this layer.