Depleting Ozone and Its Effect on Society
Is there a reason for us to be concerned? Can ozone depletion really be connected to something that is truly harmful to humans? How are we directly affected by ozone depletion? How much do we actually know about the ozone and the things that are going on in the atmosphere? There are many questions that arise when talking about the ozone depletion in relation to skin cancer. Today both environmentalists and researchers alike focus on the increasingly dangerous affect that ultraviolet radiation has on present day society. In order to understand how the ozone affects us we must first understand what the ozone is. What is the ozone? The ozone’s essential duty is to protect society from harmful ultraviolet rays by acting as a filter. The ozone is a layer in the middle of the stratosphere that protects the earth from the harmful ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun. The ozone layer acts as a shield and prevents the sun’s deadly ultraviolet rays from penetrating to the surface of the earth. The ozone layer protects humans in ways that are difficult to predict
The main reason that the ozone is depleting is because of the very nature of human activity. The ozone is being destroyed by chlorofluorocarbons. Chlorofluorocarbons, widely know as CFC’s, are a human-made chemicals that are composed of carbon, chlorine and fluorine atoms. It is the chlorine in chlorofluorocarbons that breaks down the molecule in the ozone causing it to slowly deplete. It is this man-made chemical been the main cause of ozone depletion high up in the atmosphere. There are several different types of CFCs. They were first developed in the 1930s, and since then have been widely used in refrigerators, aerosol cans and fire extinguishers. They have been used in refrigeration, aerosols and fire extinguishers since the 1930s, so this posed a major problem. One chlorofluorocarbon molecule can destroy up to one hundred thousand ozone molecules. As of today, chlorofluorocarbons have accounted for roughly eighty percent of the total ozone depletion that has been observed. It was only recently in the last twelve years (1995) that these chemicals that were destroying the ozone were banned and phased out of most products in the United States of America and Canada.
Studies have shown that not only does exposure to ultraviolet radiation increase the risk skin cancer, but it also causes damage to our Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) which is nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions that are used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms such as our skin cells. DNA is extremely sensitive to ultraviolet radiation. The ultraviolet radiation from the sun penetrates the depleting ozone layer and reaches our skin. When the radiation reaches our skin, the skin cells begin to “lock up” and scramble together. In the midst of the DNA scrambling, some of the DNA information gets lost while the rest of the DNA is being deleted...