About 15 to 35 km above the Earth’s surface is gas called Ozone that surrounds the planet. This layer shields the Earth from the UV radiation from the sun However, pollution has caused this layer to thin exposing life on the planet to harmful radiation. The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (which was adopted on September 15, 1987) is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer from depletion by phasing out the production of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion.

How is Ozone created?

When the sun’s rays split oxygen molecules into single atoms, Ozone is created in the atmosphere. These single atoms combine with nearby oxygen to form a three-oxygen molecule — Ozone.

Who discovered the Ozone Layer?

The Ozone Layer was discovered by the French physicists Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson in 1913.

Why is Ozone Layer important?

Ozone protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the Sun. Without the Ozone layer in the atmosphere, life on Earth would be very difficult. Plants cannot live and grow in heavy ultraviolet radiation, nor can the planktons that serve as food for most of the ocean life. With a weakening of the Ozone Layer shield, humans would be more susceptible to skin cancer, cataracts and impaired immune systems.

Is Ozone harmful?

Ozone can both protect and harm the Earth — it all depends on where it resides. For instance, if Ozone is present in the stratosphere of the atmosphere, it will act as a shield. However, if it is in the troposphere (about 10 km from the Earth’s surface), Ozone is harmful. It is a pollutant that can cause damage to lung tissues and plants. Hence, an upset in the ozone balance can have serious consequences.

Disruption of Ozone Balance in the atmosphere

Since the 1970s scientists have observed human activities to be disrupting the ozone balance. Production of chlorine-containing chemicals, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), have added to depletion of the Ozone Layer.

What is ‘Ozone Layer depletion’?

Chemicals containing chlorine and bromine atoms are released in the atmosphere through human activities. These chemicals combine with certain weather conditions to cause reactions in the Ozone Layer, leading to ozone molecules getting destroyed. Depletion of the Ozone Layer occurs globally, but the severe depletion of the Ozone Layer over the Antarctic is often referred to as the ‘Ozone Hole’. Increased depletion has recently started occurring over the Arctic as well.

Credit : Business standard

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