OZONE LAYER DEPLETION

By Nishant Saurav Sinha & Sanchi Gupta

             


Nishant Saurav Sinha & Sanchi Gupta



ABSTRACT

The Environment is the most important and beautiful part of this world. As per section 2(a) of the EPA - 1986, the environment comprises of the interrelationship and interdependence between land, air and water with human beings and other living organisms. To make this earth a better place to live, our environment is blessed with an important gaseous layer situated at the lower part of the stratosphere, known as the Ozone layer. This Ozone layer which absorbs almost 99.5 percent of the ultraviolet (UV) rays radiated by the Sun and protects us against its adverse effects has become a topic of concern now days. There are many situations where human activities have caused a significant effect on the environment; Ozone layer damage is one of them. One of the main reasons for the widespread concern about the depletion of the ozone layer is the anticipated increase in the amount of ultra-violet (UV) radiations received at earth's surface and its effect on human health and environment. Ozone layer depletion not only affects plants, animals and human beings but, it also affects the Biochemical cycle. This paper discusses how the ozone layer is getting depleted due to the man-made gases emerging from man-made resources and technologies, causing detrimental impact on a variety of living beings resulting in imbalance in the entire ecosystem. It also discusses about the change in the ecosystem from past to present due to increase in the usage of more man-made resources and gases. On the contrary a complete control over these man-made resources and gases would not be immediately possible, but a conscious effort and crucial steps needed to be taken to save our plants, animals, human beings and to correct the imbalance in the biochemical cycle prevailing in the environment. Already, there has been a lot of damage caused to the environment which has not yet been recovered till date. There are various environmental laws available to reduce the damage being caused to the environment. There are various remedial ways available which can control or reduce the damage being caused to the environment such as: disposing of the uses of pre-1995 air conditioning units, not purchasing aerosol products with chlorofluorocarbons etc. These remedial laws and ways can only work if all work together to correct the same and make this environment a better place to live in. So this paper also discusses about various ways in which ozone layer depletion can be controlled.

Key words: environment, interrelationship and interdependence, ozone layer, human beings, animals and plants, man-made resources and gases, aerosol products with chlorofluorocarbons etc.


INTRODUCTION

 

The Environment is the most important and beautiful part of this world. As per section 2(a) of the EPA - 1986, the environment comprises of the interrelationship and interdependence between land, air and water with human beings and other living organisms.

 

To make this earth a better place to live, our environment is blessed with an important gaseous layer situated at the lower part of the stratosphere, known as the Ozone layer.

'

 Ozone is a colourless substance like oxygen that is constituted of three atom of oxygen combined that is formed in upper part of the Earth's ​ atmosphere in small amounts where it forms a layer called Ozone Layer. Ozone contains harsh odour which is quite rare and is difficult to be found. Without ozone, life on Earth would not have been possible to be the same as is now.

 

This layer is vital to human well-being and ​ ecosystem health because it absorbs a large amount of the Sun's biologically harmful ​ ultraviolet radiation​s (99.5% of the ultraviolet Radiations) that is causing damage. The stratospheric region that contains Ozone Layer is more than 10 km (6 miles approx.) above Earth's surface.

 

There are many situations where human activities have caused a significant effect on the environment; Ozone layer damage is one of them. It is the most serious problem faced by our planet as it is the main reason for the increase in global warming. Ozone layer depletion not only affects plants, animals and human beings but, it also affects the Biochemical cycle​.


CAUSES OF OZONE LAYER DEPLETION



This diagram denotes the various causes for the depletion of the ozone layer which has become a great threat to our society. Some of these causes are mentioned below:-

 

  1. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

These are the compounds that are non-toxic, non-flammable and non-carcinogenic. These compounds contain atoms of chlorine, fluorine and carbon at one lace and are often used as the refrigerants used by the human beings in their day to day life.Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are chemicals used as the propellant for aerosol cans that when reached the stratosphere reacted with the ultra-violet rays and released chlorine and bromine in Earth's ozone layer causing it to destroy.

 

  1. Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)

These are the compounds used as a raw material in many industries. These compounds have ozone depletion potential of 1.2.

 

  1. Rocket Launches

It is assessed that unregulated launch of Rockets can cause more damage to the stratosphere than the CFCs. As per the international journal rocket launches leave highly reactive traces gas molecules known as radicals causes stratospheric ozone destruction. A single radical in the atmosphere can destroy upto 10000 ozone molecules in the stratosphere.4

 

  1. Global Warming

As per the online journal by ​Fakhra Anwar most of the heat is trapped in the troposphere due to excessive global warming and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Troposphere is the layer below the stratosphere causing huge amount of depletion of ozone layer.5

 

  1. The Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)

There are chemical substances that are basically grouped as the ozone depleting substances. Some of these chemicals are as follows:

 

        Methyl bromide used in the pesticides.

 

        Methyl chloroform used to make industrial solvents.

      Halons used in fire extinguishers. 



These chemicals though help in the betterment in the society but like CFCs these substances also react with the ozone chemically which causes depletion in the Ozone Layer.6

 

POSITIVE EFFECTS OF OZONE LAYER

 

The authors have not only researched on the negative effect but have also figured the positive effects of exposure of the skin to solar Ultra-Violet radiations the major known is the ​ synthesis of ​ vitamin D which is critical in maintaining blood calcium levels and is required to maintain strong ​ bones​.7

 

Ozone Layer is very helpful as it helps to protect the human well being by protecting them from harmful diseases such as cancer, sunburns and cataracts.8

 

 

EFFECTS OF OZONE LAYER DEPLETION - AN OVERVIEW


Human beings being educated does not realise that using of their activities of using Aerosol products, CFCs products is causing depletion in the Ozone Layer which is causing UV Radiations to enter into the atmosphere. These UV Radiations are causing huge effects on the human health, aquatic life, plants and animals. Thus our conscious actions are highly detrimental.

         EFFECT ON AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS

As per the report in 2017 by ​Philip it is assessed that phytoplankton i.e. the basis for the marine food chain is at loss due to the increase in the ultraviolet radiations.

It is also assessed that UNEP indicates that if there is a 16 percent decrease in the Ozone it can be a result of a 5 per cent loss of phytoplankton it means a loss of 7 million tonnes of fishes per year. This is a huge loss and if no preventive measures are taken up it tend to increase even more in the countries that are still developing.9

 

         EFFECT ON PLANTS

As per the report in 2017 by ​Philip it is assessed that in many plants due to presence of UV-B radiations there has been an adverse effect such as alteration in the shape and size of the plants, reduction in the growth of the plants, change in the time of flowering these adverse effects on plants causes loss of biodiversity.

 

         EFFECT ON HUMAN AND ANIMAL HEALTH

As per the online journal by ​Fakhra Anwar it is assessed that human eye and skin are the most damaged parts of human body due to the excessive Ozone Layer Depletion in the Stratosphere. Oxidative Oxygen produced by UV Radiations can severely damage the eye lens and cornea of eye. It is also assessed that the major cause for blindness in the world is cataracts.

UV Radiations emerging in the stratosphere can cause various harmful diseases to the human health sun as skin cancer, lung diseases and damage in the DNA during replication, decrease in the immunity level of the human beings.10

 

         EFFECT ON WATER BODIES

                      Ozone layer depletion has also caused an adverse effect on water bodies such as in lakes, rivers and ponds it is so because there has now been                      found high quality of hydrogen peroxide. This high quality hydrogen peroxide is toxic to human bodies as well as to the marine species. Due to                      this form of water pollution marine species have started becoming extinct.


LAWS AND REMEDIES TO PREVENT OZONE LAYER DEPLETION