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Destruction of the ozone layer: definition, causes and consequences

Before addressing the problem of the ozone layer, we are going to establish a simple comparison to better understand what the destruction of the ozone layer refers to.

Let’s imagine that the ozone layer is a wooden bowl and the solar radiation, water. Now we place the bowl down and under it, a sponge. The bowl has the function of protecting the sponge from the water that we pour over it, thus preventing it from getting wet. But what if we pierce the bowl? The answer is simple, the protection of this is no longer complete and the sponge would start to get wet. What if we now increase the hole? Well, the amount of water wetting the sponge would be greater, increasing the area affected by the water. The bowl would no longer protect the entire surface. Something similar happens with the ozone layer, the Earth and solar radiation.

In this AgroCorrn article we talk in depth about the destruction of the ozone layer, its definition, causes and consequences .

You may also be interested in: How to take care of the ozone layer
  1. What is the ozone layer: brief definition
  2. Definition of the destruction of the ozone layer
  3. Causes of the destruction of the ozone layer
  4. Consequences of the destruction of the ozone layer
  5. How to take care of the ozone layer and avoid its destruction

What is the ozone layer: brief definition

Clearly, a definition of the ozone layer is that this is the protective layer located in the stratosphere, which acts as a filter for solar radiation and a shield for ultraviolet (UV) radiation, thus guaranteeing life in the earth .

Despite its great importance, humans seem determined to continue destroying it by accelerating its deterioration through environmental pollution, which is, a good part of it, our fault. In this other AgroCorrn post you can learn much more about this part of the stratosphere, as well as why the ozone layer is so important .

Definition of the destruction of the ozone layer

As mentioned in the previous section, the ozone layer is located in the stratosphere between 15-30 km from the earth’s surface. It is made up of O3 (ozone) molecules , which at this point have the function of absorbing ultraviolet B radiation (UV-B) , serving as a filter for solar radiation. The process that occurs is the following and at the end is when the acceleration of the deterioration or destruction of the ozone layer occurs :

  1. Incident solar radiation is filtered by the ozone layer.
  2. O3 molecules break down when absorbing UV-B radiation, dissociating into O2 (dioxide) and O (oxygen). This process is called photolysis, which means the breakdown or lysis of the molecule by the action of light.
  3. The O2 and O forms are not dissociated, they rejoin, forming O3 again. Although this last step does not always happen, thus giving rise to “holes” in the ozone layer.

Causes of the destruction of the ozone layer

Regarding the main causes of the destruction of the ozone layer , it should be noted that some of the most responsible products are chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs , which are used as refrigerants and aerosol propellants. When released into the atmosphere, these chemicals are broken down by the action of sunlight, giving rise to chlorine atoms (Cl) , which reacts with the oxygen in ozone (O3), breaking up the molecule and forming chlorine monoxide (ClO). , thus reducing the amount of ozone in the layer. But not only is Cl the cause of the great ozone depletion , other chemicals that contain bromine (Br) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) also come into play., present mainly in fertilizers. For this reason, the use of these products has been reduced in order to eradicate them. According to forecasts by the World Meteorological Organization, the recovery of the ozone layer will occur around the year 2050, taking into account that they are estimates, since although they are no longer used and there is withdrawal from the market, these products remain in the market. atmosphere for decades.

It should be noted that the hole in the ozone layer is located over Antarctica, despite the fact that most of the gases emitted into the atmosphere are “paid for” by developed countries, although conditions have also been observed in the Alps and Canada. This is due to the residence time of these gases in the atmosphere, which allow their movement at the mercy of the general circulation of the planet, benefiting from the low temperatures in that area of ​​the hemisphere. The destruction of the ozone layer is greater the lower the temperature, therefore it increases in winter and early spring.

Consequences of the destruction of the ozone layer

The consequences of the accelerated deterioration or destruction of the ozone layer are numerous, although we surely still do not believe that it could happen to us. These are some of the effects that result from this environmental problem.

Consequences on human health

  • Skin cancer: it is the best known disease related to UV-B radiation. When we sunbathe without protecting ourselves or we do not do it properly, we think that nothing is going to happen, since the disease does not appear at the moment, if not over the years.
  • Affection to the immune system: it works by reducing the body’s ability to protect us from infectious diseases. UV-B radiation modifies the DNA molecule causing changes in our body.
  • Vision disturbance: cataracts, presbyopia (eyestrain).
  • Respiratory problems: such as asthma, as a result of the increase in O3 in the lower layers of the atmosphere, which is harmful at low altitudes.

Consequences on terrestrial and marine animals

  • Regarding land animals (dogs, cats, sheep, goats, cows …) the consequences are similar to those of human beings.
  • Regarding marine fauna, UV-B radiation that reaches the earth’s surface directly affects phytoplankton in the oceans , considerably reducing their population. Affecting the rest of the food chain.

Consequences on plants

UV-B radiation alters the development of plant species, changing flowering times, growth and reducing crop production.

The destruction of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect are not directly related, although much of society may have that idea. One thing they do share, and he is primarily responsible for these events. If we think about it, all these consequences end up affecting the human being in one way or another, which in turn is the cause and responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer. So … do we still believe that our actions will have no consequences in the very near future and even in the present?

Learn more about this other environmental problem in this other AgroCorrn article about the Greenhouse Effect: causes, consequences and solutions .

How to take care of the ozone layer and avoid its destruction

Finally, we want to offer you some tips on how to take care of the ozone layer so that it is not destroyed , slowing the progress of the hole in it and helping to recover the ozone.

  • Avoid using aerosols containing CFCs.
  • Avoid products that contain halons, such as some fire extinguishers.
  • Avoid the use of fertilizers that contain methyl bromide, there are alternatives that do not have a negative impact and that we can use for cultivation.
  • Buy local products. Why? Well, the reason, in this case, is in the gases emitted by the vehicles that transport the products, these gases are nitrogen oxides, harmful to the ozone layer. If the products are local, the distance they have to travel is less or zero and that translates into minimal or non-existent emission of these.
  • Move with other alternatives that are not a private car (public transport, bicycles, scooters …), to avoid the massive emission of the aforementioned gases.
  • Use of lower consumption bulbs, such as LEDs. Learn more about Green LED Lighting here.

These are some of the actions that we can avoid and others to promote, but above all to disclose. Starting with the little ones, who are our future but, above all, their own future is in their hands.

In this video you can learn more about how to avoid the deterioration or destruction of the ozone layer .

If you want to read more articles similar to Destruction of the ozone layer: definition, causes and consequences , we recommend that you enter our ozone layer category .

Maria Anderson

Hello, I am a blogger specialized in environmental, health and scientific dissemination issues in general. The best way to define myself as a blogger is by reading my texts, so I encourage you to do so. Above all, if you are interested in staying up to date and reflecting on these issues, both on a practical and informative level.

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