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Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are fully halogenated paraffin hydrocarbons that contain

only carbon, chlorine, and fluorine, produced as volatile derivative of methane, ethane, and propane.
They are also commonly known by the DuPont brand name Freon. The most common
representative is dichlorodifluoromethane (R-12 or Freon-12). Many CFCs have been widely used
as refrigerants, propellants (in aerosol applications), and solvents. Because CFCs contribute
to ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere, the manufacture of such compounds has been phased
out under the Montreal Protocol, and they are being replaced with other products such
as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)[1] (e.g., R-410A) and R-134a.[2][3]Ozone
is a molecule that
contains three atoms of oxygen and thus has the formula O3.

Ozone was first discovered in 1839 by German scientist Christian Friedrich


Schonbein.
Ozone is formed from dioxygen by the action of ultraviolet light and also
atmospheric electrical discharges, and is present in very low concentrations
throughout the Earth's atmosphere (stratosphere). Its concentration is
highest in the ozone layer region of the atmosphere, which absorbs most of
the Sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

In 1785, the Dutch chemist Martinus van Marum was conducting experiments
involving electrical sparking above water when he noticed an unusual smell,
which he attributed to the electrical reactions, failing to realize that he had
in fact created ozone.[6] A half century later, Christian Friedrich
Schönbein noticed the same pungent odour and recognized it as the smell
often following a bolt of lightning. In 1839, he succeeded in isolating the
gaseous chemical and named it "ozone", from the Greek word ozein (ὄζειν)
meaning "to smell".[7][8] For this reason, Schönbein is generally credited with
the discovery of ozone.[6][9] The formula for ozone, O3, was not determined
until 1865 by Jacques-Louis Soret[10] and confirmed by Schönbein in
1867.[7][11]
T
he standard way to express total ozone levels (the amount of ozone in a
given vertical column) in the atmosphere is by using Dobson units. Point
measurements are reported as mole fractions in nmol/mol (parts per billion,
ppb) or as concentrations in μg/m3. The study of ozone concentration in the
atmosphere started in the 1920s.[33]

Importance to surface-dwelling life on Earth[edit]


Ozone in the ozone layer filters out sunlight wavelengths from about 200 nm
UV rays to 315 nm, with ozone peak absorption at about 250 nm.[35] This
ozone UV absorption is important to life, since it extends the absorption of
UV by ordinary oxygen and nitrogen in air (which absorb all wavelengths <
200 nm) through the lower UV-C (200–280 nm) and the entire UV-B band
(280–315 nm). The small unabsorbed part that remains of UV-B after
passage through ozone causes sunburn in humans, and direct DNA damage in
living tissues in both plants and animals. Ozone's effect on mid-range UV-B
rays is illustrated by its effect on UV-B at 290 nm, which has a radiation
intensity 350 million times as powerful at the top of the atmosphere as at
the surface. Nevertheless, enough of UV-B radiation at similar frequency
reaches the ground to cause some sunburn, and these same wavelengths are
also among those responsible for the production of vitamin D in humans.
The ozone layer has little effect on the longer UV wavelengths called UV-A
(315–400 nm), but this radiation does not cause sunburn or direct DNA
damage, and while it probably does cause long-term skin damage in certain
humans, it is not as dangerous to plants and to the health of surface-
dwelling organisms on Earth in general (see ultraviolet for more information
on near ultraviolet).

Ozone as a greenhouse gas[edit]


Although ozone was present at ground level before the Industrial Revolution,
peak concentrations are now far higher than the pre-industrial levels, and
even background concentrations well away from sources of pollution are
substantially higher.[40][41] Ozone acts as a greenhouse gas, absorbing
some of the infrared energy emitted by the earth. Quantifying the
greenhouse gas potency of ozone is difficult because it is not present in
uniform concentrations across the globe. However, the most widely accepted
scientific assessments relating to climate change (e.g. the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report)[42]
suggest that the radiative forcing of tropospheric ozone is about 25% that
of carbon dioxide.

The annual global warming potential of tropospheric ozone is between 918–


1022 tons carbon dioxide equivalent/tons tropospheric ozone. This means on
a per-molecule basis, ozone in the troposphere has a radiative forcing effect
roughly 1,000 times as strong as carbon dioxide. However, tropospheric
ozone is a short-lived greenhouse gas, which decays in the atmosphere much
more quickly than carbon dioxide. This means that over a 20-year span, the
global warming potential of tropospheric ozone is much less, roughly 62 to 69
tons carbon dioxide equivalent / ton tropospheric ozone.[43]

Because of its short-lived nature, tropospheric ozone does not have strong
global effects, but has very strong radiative forcing effects on regional
scales. In fact, there are regions of the world where tropospheric ozone has
a radiative forcing up to 150% of carbon dioxide.[44]
She Earth is wrapped in a blanket of air called ‘atmosphere’, which is made up
of several layers. About 19 to 30 kilometers above the Earth is a layer of gas
called ozone, which is a form of oxygen. Ozone is produced naturally in the
atmosphere.
The ozone layer is very important because it stops too many of the sun’s
‘Ultra-Violet rays’ (UV rays) getting through to the Earth; these are the rays
that cause our skin to tan. Too much UV can cause skin cancer and will also
harm all plants and animals. Life on Earth could not exist without the
protective shield of the ozone layer.

OZONE- HOLE Every year, a hole as big as the USA develops in the ozone
layer over Antarctica, in the South Pole. A smaller hole develops each year
over the Arctic, at the North Pole. And there are signs that the ozone layer is
getting thinner all over the planet.

Scientists have discovered that the ozone hole over Antarctica started in
1979, and that the ozone layer generally started to get thin in the early 1980s.
The loss of the ozone layer occurs when more ozone is being destroyed than
nature is creating.

One group of gases is particularly likely to damage the ozone layer. These
gases are called CFCs, Chloro-Fluoro-Carbons. CFCs are used in some
spray cans to force the contents out of the can. They are also used in
refrigerators, air conditioning systems and some fire extinguishers. They are
used because they are not poisonous and do not catch fire.

Most countries have now stopped using new CFCs that can be released into
the atmosphere, but many scientists believe we must stop using old ones as
well.

HEALTH The ozone layer is like a sunscreen, and a thinning of it would mean
that more ultra-violet rays would be reaching us. Too many UV rays would
cause more sunburn, and because sunburn causes skin cancer, this too
would increase deaths.

These UV rays are also dangerous for our eyes and could cause an increase
in people becoming blind. That is why sun cream and sunglasses are very
important.

TWO-FACED OZONE GAS Ozone found between 19 and 30 kilometers high


in the atmosphere is one of the reasons why we are alive on Earth. But when
the gas ozone is found lower down where we can breathe it in, it becomes
very dangerous for our health. This ozone is caused by a reaction between air
pollution and sunlight and can cause modern-day smog. This is different to the
smog that formed in the early 20th century from smoke and fog.

Human activities cause ozone depletion and global


warming
Ozone (O3) depletion does not cause global warming, but both of these
environmental problems have a common cause: human activities
that release pollutants into the atmosphere altering it.

Global warming is caused primarily by putting too much carbon


dioxide into the atmosphere when coal, oil, and natural gas are burned
to generate electricity or to run our cars.

Carbon dioxide spreads around the planet like a blanket, and is one of
the main gases responsible for the absorption of infrared radiation
(felt as heat), which comprises the bulk of solar energy.

Ozone depletion occurs when chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and


halons—gases formerly found in aerosol spray cans and refrigerants—
are released into the atmosphere (see details below).
Ozone sits in the upper atmosphere and absorbs ultraviolet radiaton,
another type of solar energy that's harmful to humans, animals and
plants. CFCs and halons cause chemical reactions that break down
ozone molecules, reducing ozone's ultraviolet radiation-absorbing
capacity.

How ozone works

How ozone is distributed in the atmosphere.

The sun emits electromagnetic radiation at different wavelengths,


meaning energy at different intensities. The atmosphere acts like a
multi-layer shield that protects Earth from dangerous solar radiation.

Ozone is found in two different parts of our atmosphere. Ground level


or “bad” ozone is a human health irritant and component of smog. It is
found in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) and has nothing to do
with the "ozone hole."

High level or “good” ozone occurs in the stratosphere and accounts for
the vast majority of atmospheric ozone.

The stratospheric ozone layer absorbs ultraviolet (UV) radiation,


preventing dangerous UV rays from hitting Earth's surface and
harming living organisms. UV rays cannot be seen or felt, but they are
very powerful and change the chemical structure of molecules.

UV radiation plays a small role in global warming because its quantity


is not enough to cause the excess heat trapped in the atmosphere. UV
radiation represents a small percentage of the energy from the sun,
and is not highly absorbed or scattered in the atmosphere—especially
when compared with other wavelengths, like infrared. But, ozone
depletion is also concerning because it directly impacts the health of
humans, and other living organisms.

The ozone hole

NATIONAL GEGRAPHIC

The ozone layer is a belt of the naturally occurring gas "ozone." It sits 9.3 to
18.6 miles (15 to 30 kilometers) above Earth, and serves as a shield from the
harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation emitted by the sun.

Ozone is a highly reactive molecule that contains three oxygen atoms. It is


constantly being formed and broken down in the high atmosphere, 6.2 to 31
miles (10 to 50 kilometers) above Earth, in the region called
the stratosphere.
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Today, there is widespread concern that the ozone layer is deteriorating due
to the release of pollution containing the chemicals chlorine and bromine.
Such deterioration allows large amounts of ultraviolet B rays to reach Earth,
which can cause skin cancer and cataracts in humans and harm animals as
well.

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Extra ultraviolet B radiation reaching Earth also inhibits the reproductive
cycle of phytoplankton, single-celled organisms such as algae that make up
the bottom rung of the food chain. Biologists fear that reductions in
phytoplankton populations will in turn lower the populations of other
animals. Researchers also have documented changes in the reproductive
rates of young fish, shrimp, and crabs as well as frogs and salamanders
exposed to excess ultraviolet B.

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Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals found mainly in spray


aerosols heavily used by industrialized nations for much of the past 50 years,
are the primary culprits in ozone layer breakdown. When CFCs reach the
upper atmosphere, they are exposed to ultraviolet rays, which causes them to
break down into substances that include chlorine. The chlorine reacts with
the oxygen atoms in ozone and rips apart the ozone molecule.

One atom of chlorine can destroy more than a hundred thousand ozone
molecules, according to the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The ozone layer above the Antarctic has been particularly impacted by
pollution since the mid-1980s. This region’s low temperatures speed up the
conversion of CFCs to chlorine. In the southern spring and summer, when
the sun shines for long periods of the day, chlorine reacts with ultraviolet
rays, destroying ozone on a massive scale, up to 65 percent. This is what
some people erroneously refer to as the "ozone hole." In other regions, the
ozone layer has deteriorated by about 20 percent.

About 90 percent of CFCs currently in the atmosphere were emitted by


industrialized countries in the Northern Hemisphere, including the United
States and Europe. These countries banned CFCs by 1996, and the amount of
chlorine in the atmosphere is falling now. But scientists estimate it will take
another 50 years for chlorine levels to return to their natural levels.