Ozone layer depletion is the gradual thinning of the earth’s ozone layer in the upper atmosphere caused due to the release of chemical compounds containing gaseous bromine or chlorine from industries or other human activities.
Causes of Ozone Layer Depletion
- The ozone layer depletion is a major concern and is associated with a number of factors. The main causes responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer are listed below:
- Chlorofluorocarbons or the CFC are the main cause of ozone layer depletion. These are released by soaps, solvents, spray aerosols, refrigerators, air-conditioners, etc.
- The molecules of chlorofluorocarbons in the stratosphere are broken down by the ultraviolet radiations and release chlorine atoms. These atoms react with ozone and destroy it.
(2) Unregulated Rocket Launches
- Researches say that the unregulated launching of rockets result in much more depletion of ozone layer than the CFCs do. If not controlled, this might result in a huge loss of the ozone layer by the year 2050.
(3) Nitrogenous Compounds
- The nitrogenous compounds such as NO2, NO, N2O are highly responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer.
(4) Natural Causes
- The ozone layer has been found to be depleted by certain natural processes such as Sun-spots and stratospheric winds. But it does not cause more than 1-2% of the ozone layer depletion.
(6) Ozone depletion Substance:
Ozone depleting substances are the substances such as chlorofluorocarbons, halons, carbon tetrachloride, hydrofluorocarbons, etc. that are responsible for the depletion of ozone layer.
Effects of Ozone Layer Deplition
Effect of stratospheric ozone: –
(1) Impact on marine ecosystem: –
- High amounts of UV-B radiation decrease the production of phytoplankton. Phytoplankton form the basis of the aquatic dietary canal. Therefore, it damages the pre-developmental stage of animals such as fish, shrimp, crab, due to which the growth of larvae is affected. It also increases global heating.
(2) Effect on vegetation: –
- Physical and developmental processes are affected by UV-B radiation.
- Change in size of plants
- Changes in nutrient distribution of plants
- Developmental time changes
- Along with this, effects such as reduction in crop production, loss of seeds, loss in crop quality and loss of leaves come out.
(3) Impact on human health: –
- Increasing the amount of UV-B radiation to the surface of the Earth will increase the temperature, which will increase melanoma skin cancer. It also affects the respiratory system. At the same time, food crisis for humans will arise due to the impact of crops and aquatic food.
- UV-B radiation affects genetic material (DNA) that can cause gene mutations and genetic defects.
- Increase in skin cancer
- Motibind and other eye defects
- Weakened immune system
(4) Effect on Bio-Geochemical Cycle: –
- The increase in ultraviolet rays affects the terrestrial and aquatic biogeochemical mechanisms, causing a change in both sources and also a storehouse of greenhouse gases. Due to all this, there is an increase in events like climate change.
(5) Troposphere ozone gas has effect: –
- Ozone present in troposphere is harmful to green plants, forest humans
- This reduces the ingestion of carbon dioxide by plants. Which increases global warming.
- The volatile organic compound reacts with NOx in the presence of sunlight to produce photochemical smog that causes eye irritation, respiratory system problems.
Solutions to Ozone Layer Depletion
(1) Avoid Using Pesticides
- Natural methods should be implemented to get rid of pests and weeds instead of using chemicals. One can use eco-friendly chemicals to remove the pests or remove the weeds manually.
(2) Minimum Use of Vehicles
- The vehicles emit a large amount of greenhouse gases that lead to global warming as well as ozone depletion. Therefore, the use of vehicles should be minimised as much as possible.
(3) Use of Eco-friendly Cleaning Products
- Most of the cleaning products have chlorine and bromine releasing chemicals that find way into the atmosphere and affect the ozone layer. These should be substituted with natural products to protect the environment.
(4) Prohibition of use Nitrous Oxide
The government should take actions and prohibit the use of harmful nitrous oxide that is adversely affecting the ozone layer. The people should be made aware of the harmful effects of nitrous oxide and the products emitting the gas so that its use is minimised at the individual level as well.
Way forward: –
Although ozone depletion is a global problem, it should be diagnosed at both the global and individual levels. It would be appropriate for human welfare to stop it by planting trees at the individual level, assuming international agreements.
Read Also : National Clean Air Program