The Ozone

The Ozone

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The Ozone

Ozone derives from the greek word ozein which means to smell. It was first discovered in 1839 by Christian Friedrick Schonbein who noticed it because of its distinctive acrid smell. He discovered this at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Ozone is merely oxygen, but not the type we breath. Ozone, O3 has three compounds while oxygen has only two. Ozone is reac- tive, meaning it does not stay still, and wants to go back to its original state, with two compounds, O2. This is why ozone isharmful. Ozone always wants to let go of its third compound, and if this compound reacts with other substances, it could be damaging, especially to humans. When discussing with the ozone layer, one should know the four major atmosphere levels on earth. The troposphere which is between zero and fifteen kilometers in altitude and has tempera- ture ranges from two hundred to two hundred ninety kelvins. The second is the stratosphere which ranges from fifteen to approxi- mately fifty kilometers in altitude and has temperature ranges from two hundred to two hundred fifty kelvins. The third level in the atmosphere is mesosphere. This level ranges from fifty to eighty-five kilometers in altitude and has temperature rangesbetween one hundred eighty and two hundred fifty kelvins. Finally, the thermosphere is the final level in the atmosphere. It's range is eighty-five to one hundred forty kilometers and also temperatures as high as four hundred sixty kelvins.

Society has been widely addressed with the many problems that we are having in our environment today. A major problem is that of CFCs. CFC stands for Chlorofluorocarbons which are found in many of the aerosol spray cans. In December of 1973, Rowland and Molina discovered that CFCs can destroy the ozone in the stratosphere. In June 1975, the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) sued the Consumers Product Safety Commission for a band of CFCs used in aerosol spray cans. United States's fifth largest manufacturers of aerosol sprays announced that they will reduce the amount of CFCs used in there products. But as things started to get better, The Consumer Product Safety Commission rejected NRDC's law suit in July stating that there was insufficient evidence towards the amount of harm the CFCs were doing to the ozone layer. On September 1976, a report was released which re-enforced Rowland and Molina's hypothesis, but also stated that the govern- ment action on CFC regulations should be postponed.

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This report also stated that the CFCs can initiate climatic changes and contribute to the warming of the earth's atmosphere, i.e., the greenhouse effect. May 1977, several government agencies announced joint plans to limit, but not eliminate uses of CFCs in aerosol spray cans.

But on February of the following year, the government decided to postpone the regulations on CFCs used in refrigeration, air conditioning, solvents, and other industrial processes. With all the new regulations taking affect and being postponed, nothing was getting accomplished, but finally, on October 1978, aerosols where banned in the United States. August of 1981, satellite pictures showed that over one percent of the ozone was lost due to CFCs. Then, in October of 1984, research groups found a forty percent loss of ozone over Antarctica. In August of 1985, satellite photos confirmed the existence of an ozone hole over Antarctica. Even though many were trying to reduce the amount of CFCs in their products, there were still some out there who wanted to make the fast buck. February 1988, three US senators asked Du Pont to stop making CFCs but the chairman denied the requested. Three weeks later, the chairman agrees to ease manufacturing of chemicals, but only when substitutes were available. Eight in a million of the widely scattered molecules are ozone in our atmosphere--this is what is responsible for the rising of temperature. Ozone takes in ultra-violet rays when they come from the sun and converts the radiation to heat and chemical energy. The ozone layer also seals earth from the many of the other powerful radiation rays that the sun gives off. Splitting of oxygen molecules depends upon the intense radiation, therefore, the greatest ozone production is over the tropics. The ozone is dangerous to us because is causes many types of skin cancer such as malignant melanoma--a very deadly cancer which causes death to forty percent of all recorded cases of cancer. Many people predict that the ozone layer would cause thirty thousand skin cancers just in the United States alone, and over five hundred-thousand world wide. Cancer, though, is only one of the few problems that the ozone layer causes. For example small organisms such as plankton in the sea which is the aquatic food which serves as the basic food chain would be destroyed and therefore destroying the food chain--not only the sea food chain, but also the land. Nobody knows what exact reaction there may be if the ozone continues to break down as it is now. Besides rays from the sun, photon can also come in the Earth and be destructive. Outer portions of the atmosphere, i.e., the thermosphere, the energy from the photon is used to photodisociate (break down) oxygen molecules. Ozone is an unstable compound, if it is left to itself it will turn into O2, but this takes place very slowly in the presents of light. Air pollution increases ozone destruction as show below. NO, nitrogen oxide, is air pollution. The troposphere has too much ozone and ozone is harmful to us if is too close. Ten to fifteen molecules per million of ozone in the atmosphere is enough to kill small animals. Since the number is eight per million already, it is not long until it will get extremely destructive. Shown below is how ozone can be created, ozone being O3 and NO2 being pollution. The hole in the ozone layer is become bigger every day. If we do not do anything to stop it, it will eventually kill us. There is so much we can do--but we must be willing to do it. Time is what we have no


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