Ozone The Good, Bad, And Ugly

1285 words - 6 pages

“The ozone is a gas that occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level; it can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for our health and the environment, depending on its location in the atmosphere” (“Ozone- Good up high bad nearby “ par.1). The troposphere is the layer of ozone that starts at ground level and extends upward about 6-10 miles. This is the area where pollution and smog is located. “Tropospheric ozone can permanently damage people’s lungs and prohibit plants from producing and storing food” (Baker, par. 2). The troposphere is referred to as the “bad” ozone. The next layer of ozone is the stratosphere, which ...view middle of the document...

It is cold enough in the polar caps that certain clouds called Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs) can form. These clouds activate the ozone depleting chemicals to destroy the ozone. “The upper stratosphere is much less affected, however, so that the overall amount of ozone over the continent [Antarctica] declines by 50 percent or more. The ozone hole does not go all the way through the layer; on the other hand, it is not a uniform ‘thinning’ of the layer either. It’s a ‘hole’ in the sense of ‘a hole in the ground’- a depression, not in the sense of ‘a hole in the windshield’” (“Ozone depletion” 15). The protective ozone layer that is above the stratosphere is also decreasing in all areas of the world, due to previous use of the man-made ozone depleting substances.There are many consequences associated with the problem of ozone depletion because harmful UVB ultraviolet light is now able to penetrate the ozone layers. Skin cancer cases, along with the most fatal of skin cancers, have been linked with UVB exposure. “Studies are suggestive of an association between ocular cortical cataracts and UVB exposure” (“Ozone depletion” 7). Also affected are the mutualistic relationships between crops and nitrogen-fixing bacteria that are sensitive to UV light. Furthermore, “some scientists suggest that marine phytoplanktons, which are the base of the ocean food chain, are already under stress from UV radiation. This stress could have adverse consequences for human food supplies from the oceans” (“Ozone- Good up high bad nearby” par.6).In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was established to preserve the ozone layer. This treaty eventually banned the production and use of ozone-depleting substances in almost 200 countries! It is estimated that if the protocol is followed, there will be a significant increase in the ozone layer by the year 2050. Unfortunately the ozone will not return to its original size due to new studies from NASA’s Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center that found that greenhouse gasses are interfering with the ozone’s recovery. Nevertheless, it appears as though we are in the process of fixing the stratospheric layer of ozone. But what about the ground-level troposphere?There is a significant amount of danger imposed on us from the troposphere. This “bad” ozone “…is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and...

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