What Causes Ozone Depletion?

Along the years, many environmentalists and scientists have been wondering about what causes ozone depletion. They have been debating this problem and its causes for a while now, trying to diminish the effects of climate change. Maybe we do not realize this, but ozone layer depletion is a severe problem that affects our whole planet. Furthermore, this is also one of the reasons we are confronting with global warming.

The layer of ozone gas located in the stratosphere of our upper atmosphere protects the planet from severe ultraviolet radiations coming from the sun. The ozone layer is there to absorb the powerful radiations. Hence, it prevents the harmful rays to penetrate the atmosphere. Ultraviolet radiations represent high energy electromagnetic waves which may lead to terrible environmental issues if they enter the atmosphere. They are responsible for global warming. Furthermore, they have also caused a series of health issues to living organisms.

Starting with the 1970s, scientists decided to analyze ozone layer depletion. Many environmentalists and researchers have been analyzing this topic over the years to establish the causes and the effects of ozone depletion. Furthermore, they have been conducting a lot of research to find solutions to these issues.

What causes ozone depletion?

The primary factors which contributed to the degradation of the ozone layer include the increase of the level of bromine and chlorine gases in the upper atmosphere as well as low temperatures. However, the most important reason for ozone depletion relies on the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). This affects the ozone layer so severely that it contributes to 80% of the total ozone layer depletion.

Nevertheless, there are still other substances which contribute to the depletion of ozone layer. Some of them are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). They are present in vehicular emissions, refrigerants, aerosols, and by-products of industrial processes. These ozone-depleting substances are stable in the lower atmospheric region.

Nevertheless, when they get into the stratosphere, they become exposed to the ultraviolet rays. Hence, this triggers their breakdown. They also release free chlorine atoms, and these seem to react with the ozone gas and lead to the depletion of the ozone layer.

A green plant in some soil in someone's hand

Our planet is severely affected by powerful UV rays which cause many health-related problems.

Ozone depletion affects Earth’s environment as well as plants and animals. If the ozone layer thins, then UV rays enter into the atmosphere and cause many health-related issues. We know that too much exposure to UV rays can cause an increased risk of developing several types of cancers. The most common type of cancer is skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, basal and malignant melanoma represent the most common types of cancers.

The effects of ozone layer depletion

Powerful and harmful UV rays also trigger eye damage. Specialists indicate that direct exposure to harmful UV rays may cause cataract problems, snow blindness, and photokeratitis. UV rays exposure is also responsible for immune system issues. When it comes to UV rays exposure, our immune system is highly vulnerable. This can trigger a weakening in our immune system response and extreme cases it may also cause severe impairments.

UV rays exposure may determine skin aging. The process of aging can be accelerated, and people’s skin will look older. Furthermore, people who have fair skin may suffer from photoallergies, triggering outbreaks of rashes. Other symptoms which may follow too much UV ray exposure may be throat irritation, chest pain, impairs in lung function and breathing difficulties.

The exposure to UV rays also affects several species of amphibians. What is more, this is the number one reason why some amphibian species are on the verge of extinction. It affects the growth and evolution of larvae and triggers deformities in certain species. Experts indicate that the marine system is also affected by UV rays. Mainly, UV exposure affects planktons. This plays a significant role in the oceanic carbon cycle and the food chain. Therefore, the whole ecosystem gets affected.

UV radiations also affect plants, altering the flowering time for some plants. Furthermore, it can directly damage the plant growth by affecting the developmental and physiological processes of the plants.

Ozone depletion and the environment

The depletion of ozone layer triggers a decrease in the ozone gas from the stratosphere. Furthermore, this causes the presence of ozone in the lower atmosphere which is considered to be a pollutant. Ozone in the lower atmosphere fuels the damaging effects of climate change. Recently, climate change has become humanity’s greatest enemy, affecting several species.

Greenhouse gases trap the heat coming from the sun, increasing global temperatures and causing a severe meltdown of polar ice. The entire planet is heating, and only a few actions have been in effect to try and stop global warming.

Solutions for ozone layer depletion

Ozone layer depletion is a global problem. That is why we all need to take action to reduce greenhouse gases including ozone gas from the atmosphere. In 1987, the Montreal protocol which is an international agreement helped to control and cut down on the industrial emission of chlorofluorocarbons. Environmentalists should enforce more such agreements between all great powers in the world to reduce ozone layer depletion.

When it comes to what we can change at an individual level, we should definitely think about recycling. Using and purchasing recycled products as well as saving energy will help us diminish the production of chlorofluorocarbons that trigger ozone layer depletion. We should all spread awareness to let people know that this issue is severe and we need to act quickly to annihilate it.

Summing up

By saving the ozone layer, we save this planet, and we save ourselves. Hence, it is extremely important to learn what causes ozone depletion and how we can stop the terrible effects which trigger climate change. Without the ozone layer protecting our atmosphere, we would all be gone. We are here thanks to the ozone layer protects all the living creatures. The least we can do is to protect the environment and try to save what is left of the ozone layer before it’s too late.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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