Essay, Research Paper: Ozone Layer


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Ozone derives from the greek word ozein which means to smell. It was first
discovered in 1839 by Christian Friedrick Schonbein who noticed it because of
its distinctive acrid smell. He discovered this at the University of Basel in
Switzerland. Ozone is merely oxygen, but not the type we breath. Ozone, O3 has
three compounds while oxygen has only two. Ozone is reac- tive, meaning it does
not stay still, and wants to go back to its original state, with two compounds,
O2. This is why ozone isharmful. Ozone always wants to let go of its third
compound, and if this compound reacts with other substances, it could be
damaging, especially to humans. When discussing with the ozone layer, one should
know the four major atmosphere levels on earth. The troposphere which is between
zero and fifteen kilometers in altitude and has tempera- ture ranges from two
hundred to two hundred ninety kelvins. The second is the stratosphere which
ranges from fifteen to approxi- mately fifty kilometers in altitude and has
temperature ranges from two hundred to two hundred fifty kelvins. The third
level in the atmosphere is mesosphere. This level ranges from fifty to
eighty-five kilometers in altitude and has temperature rangesbetween one hundred
eighty and two hundred fifty kelvins. Finally, the thermosphere is the final
level in the atmosphere. It's range is eighty-five to one hundred forty
kilometers and also temperatures as high as four hundred sixty kelvins. Society
has been widely addressed with the many problems that we are having in our
environment today. A major problem is that of CFCs. CFC stands for
Chlorofluorocarbons which are found in many of the aerosol spray cans. In
December of 1973, Rowland and Molina discovered that CFCs can destroy the ozone
in the stratosphere. In June 1975, the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC)
sued the Consumers Product Safety Commission for a band of CFCs used in aerosol
spray cans. United States's fifth largest manufacturers of aerosol sprays
announced that they will reduce the amount of CFCs used in there products. But
as things started to get better, The Consumer Product Safety Commission rejected
NRDC's law suit in July stating that there was insufficient evidence towards the
amount of harm the CFCs were doing to the ozone layer. On September 1976, a
report was released which re-enforced Rowland and Molina's hypothesis, but also
stated that the govern- ment action on CFC regulations should be postponed. This
report also stated that the CFCs can initiate climatic changes and contribute to
the warming of the earth's atmosphere, i.e., the greenhouse effect. May 1977,
several government agencies announced joint plans to limit, but not eliminate
uses of CFCs in aerosol spray cans. But on February of the following year, the
government decided to postpone the regulations on CFCs used in refrigeration,
air conditioning, solvents, and other industrial processes. With all the new
regulations taking affect and being postponed, nothing was getting accomplished,
but finally, on October 1978, aerosols where banned in the United States. August
of 1981, satellite pictures showed that over one percent of the ozone was lost
due to CFCs. Then, in October of 1984, research groups found a forty percent
loss of ozone over Antarctica. In August of 1985, satellite photos confirmed the
existence of an ozone hole over Antarctica. Even though many were trying to
reduce the amount of CFCs in their products, there were still some out there who
wanted to make the fast buck. February 1988, three US senators asked Du Pont to
stop making CFCs but the chairman denied the requested. Three weeks later, the
chairman agrees to ease manufacturing of chemicals, but only when substitutes
were available. Eight in a million of the widely scattered molecules are ozone
in our atmosphere--this is what is responsible for the rising of temperature.
Ozone takes in ultra-violet rays when they come from the sun and converts the
radiation to heat and chemical energy. The ozone layer also seals earth from the
many of the other powerful radiation rays that the sun gives off. Splitting of
oxygen molecules depends upon the intense radiation, therefore, the greatest
ozone production is over the tropics. The ozone is dangerous to us because is
causes many types of skin cancer such as malignant melanoma--a very deadly
cancer which causes death to forty percent of all recorded cases of cancer. Many
people predict that the ozone layer would cause thirty thousand skin cancers
just in the United States alone, and over five hundred-thousand world wide.
Cancer, though, is only one of the few problems that the ozone layer causes. For
example small organisms such as plankton in the sea which is the aquatic food
which serves as the basic food chain would be destroyed and therefore destroying
the food chain--not only the sea food chain, but also the land. Nobody knows
what exact reaction there may be if the ozone continues to break down as it is
now. Besides rays from the sun, photon can also come in the Earth and be
destructive. Outer portions of the atmosphere, i.e., the thermosphere, the
energy from the photon is used to photodisociate (break down) oxygen molecules.
Ozone is an unstable compound, if it is left to itself it will turn into O2, but
this takes place very slowly in the presents of light. Air pollution increases
ozone destruction as show below. NO, nitrogen oxide, is air pollution. The
troposphere has too much ozone and ozone is harmful to us if is too close. Ten
to fifteen molecules per million of ozone in the atmosphere is enough to kill
small animals. Since the number is eight per million already, it is not long
until it will get extremely destructive. Shown below is how ozone can be
created, ozone being O3 and NO2 being pollution. The hole in the ozone layer is
become bigger every day. If we do not do anything to stop it, it will eventually
kill us. There is so much we can do--but we must be willing to do it. Time is
what we have no

1. Auliciems, Andris and Ian Burton. Perception and Awareness Of Air
Pollution In Toronto. Working Paper No. 3. Univer- sity of Toronto, 1970. 2.
Fishman, Jack and Robert Kalish. Global Alert: The Ozone Pollution Crisis. New
York: Plenum Press, 1990. 3. Mainwaring, S. J. and W. Strauss. Air Pollution.
Balti- more: Edward Arnold, 1984. 4. Oxtoby, David W., Norman H. Nachtribe and
Wade A. Freeman. Chemistry: Science of Change. Toronto: Saunders College
Publishing, 1990. 5. Roan, Sharon. Ozone Crisis: The 15-Year Evolution Of A
Sudden Global Emergency. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1989. 6. Young,
Louise B. Earth's Aura. First Edition. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1977.

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