The ozone layer is considered as nature's umbrella. It is a thin, fragile shield that efficiently and effectively filters all harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. It protects the earth and the entire ecosystem from the damaging rays of the sun. The creation and destruction of ozone molecules that composes the ozone layer is a natural phenomenon in the atmosphere. But because of certain man-made chemicals that were released in the atmosphere the balance of creation and destruction was altered. These chemicals are called Ozone Depleting Substances or ODS. ODS are compounds with halogen elements like chlorine and bromine. When these substances are released in the atmosphere, they destroy the ozone molecules and eventually deplete the ozone layer.
In 1985, scientists identified a thinning of the ozone layer over the Antarctic which became known as the "ozone hole". Scientific evidence shows that man-made chemicals are responsible for the creation of the ozone hole and are also likely to play a role in global ozone losses. ODS have been used in many products which take advantage of their physical properties (e.g. chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have been used as aerosol propellants and refrigerants).
Effects of Ozone DepletionUV-B (the higher energy UV radiation absorbed by ozone) is generally accepted to be a contributory factor to skin cancer.If you are wondering why is the ozone layer important, then the answer lies in the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays. The ozone layer is responsible for absorbing the ultraviolet rays and thereby preventing them from passing through the atmosphere of Earth. Ultraviolet rays of the Sun are associated with a number of health related and environmental issues. The most important of these is the association between ultraviolet rays and an increased risk of developing several types of skin cancers including malignant melanoma, basal and squamous cell carcinoma. Even the incidents of cortical cataracts can also increase significantly with the increased exposure to ultraviolet rays.
(The Ozone Layer Over Time.
Image Credit: Institute for Studies
in Development, Environment,
Another observation in this regard is that a decrease in the ozone in the stratosphere can lead to an increase in the ozone present in the lower atmosphere. Ozone present in the lower atmosphere is mainly regarded as a pollutant and a green house gas that can contribute to global warming and climate change. However, researches have pointed out that the lifespan of atmospheric ozone is quiet less as compared to stratospheric ozone. At the same time, increase in the surface level of ozone can enhance the ability of sunlight to synthesize vitamin D, which can be regarded as an important beneficial effect of ozone layer depletion.
How to protect the Ozone Layer
There are many ways in which we can help protect our ozone layer. With these simple rules we can create a chain of consciousness that will make manufactures stop creating non-environmentally friendly products. Let's make these simple ways be part of our daily life.
1. Try to use products which are labeled 'Ozone-friendly'.
2. Avoid buying and using aerosols and sprays composed of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC).
3. Avoid buying insulating material made up of CFC.
4. Check the freezer and car air-conditioning. If they do not function properly, have them
repaired because they may have leaks.
5. Reduce the use of heating and air-conditioning.
6. Replace halon fire extinguishers with alternatives (e.g. carbon dioxide or foam)
7. Buy energy saving gadgets and bulbs. You will reduce levels of pollution and money.