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Ozone Layer Depletion: Effects and Causes of Ozone Depletion

The ozone layer is responsible for absorbing harmful ultraviolet rays, and preventing them from entering the Earth's atmosphere. However, various factors have led to the depletion and damage of this protective layer. Learn more about the process, causes, and effects of ozone layer depletion.
Causes of ozone layer depletion
Ozone is a colorless gas found in the upper atmosphere of the Earth. It is formed when oxygen molecules absorb ultraviolet photons, and undergo a chemical reaction known as photo dissociation or photolysis. In this process, a single molecule of oxygen breaks down into two oxygen atoms. The free oxygen atom (O), then combines with an oxygen molecule (O2), and forms a molecule of ozone (O3). The ozone molecules, in turn absorb ultraviolet rays between 310 to 200 nm (nanometers) wavelength, and thereby prevent these harmful radiations from entering the Earth's atmosphere. The process of absorption of harmful radiation occurs when ozone molecules split up into a molecule of oxygen, and an oxygen atom. The oxygen atom (O), again combines with the oxygen molecule (O2) to regenerate an ozone (O3) molecule. Thus, the total amount of ozone is maintained by this continuous process of destruction, and regeneration.

Ultraviolet radiations (UVR), are high energy electromagnetic waves emitted from the Sun. UV radiation includes UV-A, the least dangerous form of UV radiation, UV-B, and UV-C, which is the most dangerous. UV-C is unable to reach the Earth's surface due to stratospheric ozone's ability to absorb it. The real threat comes from UV-B, which can enter the Earth's atmosphere, and has adverse effects.

Ozone layer depletion first captured the attention of the whole world in the latter half of 1970, and since then, a lot of research has been done to find its possible effects and causes. Various studies have also been undertaken to find out a possible solution. Let us take a look at some of the causes and effects of ozone layer depletion.

Causes of Ozone Depletion

Ozone is a triatomic form of oxygen (O3), found in the Earth's atmosphere. A combination of low temperatures, elevated chlorine and bromine concentrations in the upper stratosphere are responsible for the destruction of ozone. The production and emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), is the leading cause of ozone layer depletion. CFC's accounts for almost 80% of the total depletion of ozone.

Other ozone-depleting substances (ODS), include hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are often found in vehicle emissions, byproducts of industrial processes, refrigerants, and aerosols. ODS are relatively stable in the lower atmosphere of the Earth, but in the stratosphere, they are exposed to ultraviolet radiation and thus, they break down to release a free chlorine atom.

This free chlorine atom reacts with an ozone molecule (O3), and forms chlorine monoxide (ClO), and a molecule of oxygen. Now, ClO reacts with an ozone molecule to form a chlorine atom, and two molecules of oxygen. The free chlorine molecule again reacts with ozone to form chlorine monoxide. The process continues, and this results in the depletion of the ozone layer.


Possible Effects of Ozone Depletion

As ozone depletes in the stratosphere, it forms a 'hole' in the layer. This hole enables harmful ultraviolet rays to enter the Earth's atmosphere. Ultraviolet rays of the Sun are associated with a number of health-related, and environmental issues. Let us take a look at how ozone depletion affects different life forms.

Impact on Humans
  • Skin cancer: Exposure to ultraviolet rays poses an increased risk of developing several types of skin cancers, including malignant melanoma, basal and squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Eye damage: Direct exposure to UV radiations can result in photokeratitis (snow blindness), and cataracts.
  • Immune system damage: Effects of UV rays include impairment of the immune system. Increased exposure to UV rays weakens the response of the immune system.
  • Accelerated aging of skin: Constant exposure to UV radiation can cause photo allergy, which results in the outbreak of rash in fair-skinned people.
  • Other effects: Ozone chemicals can cause difficulty in breathing, chest pain, throat irritation, and hamper lung functioning.
Effects on Amphibians
Ozone depletion is listed as one of the causes for the declining numbers of amphibian species. Ozone depletion affects many species of amphibians at every stage of their life cycle. Some of the effects are mentioned below.
  • Hampers growth and development in larvae
  • Changes behavior and habits
  • Causes deformities in some species
  • Decreases immunity. Some species have become more vulnerable to diseases and death
  • Retinal damage and blindness in some species
Effects on Marine Ecosystems
In particular, plankton (phytoplankton and bacterioplankton) are threatened by increased UV radiation. Marine phytoplankton play a fundamental role in both the food chain as well as the oceanic carbon cycle. Plankton play an important role in converting atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen. Ultraviolet rays can influence the survival rates of these microscopic organisms, by affecting their orientation and mobility. This eventually disturbs and affects the entire ecosystem.

Impact on Plants
  • In some species of plants, UV radiation can alter the time of flowering, as well as the number of flowers.
  • Plant growth can be directly affected by UV-B radiation. Despite mechanisms to reduce or repair these effects, physiological and developmental processes of plants are affected.
Another observation is an increase in the ozone present in the lower atmosphere due to the decrease in the ozone in the stratosphere. Ozone present in the lower atmosphere is mainly regarded as a pollutant and a greenhouse gas, that can contribute to global warming and climate change. However, studies have pointed out that the lifespan of lower atmospheric ozone is quite less, compared to stratospheric ozone. At the same time, increase in the level of ozone in the lower atmosphere can enhance the ability of sunlight to synthesize vitamin D, which can be regarded as an important beneficial effect of ozone layer depletion.

Growing concern for ozone depletion led to the adoption of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, in order to reduce and control industrial emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Such international agreements have succeeded to a great extent in reducing the emission of these compounds. However, more cooperation and understanding among all the countries of the world is required to mitigate the problem. You too can do your bit to save the ozone. Use/buy more recycled products, save energy, take public transport, and, most importantly, spread awareness. Our individual efforts can go a long way in saving the Earth's blanket.
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Last Updated: December 14, 2012
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good job tt - lovely [April 23, 2014]
The reason why the ozone layer is bad because we people as a world are putting tons and tons of carbon dioxide into the ozone layer and pretty much eating away at the ozone layer and UV sun rays will end up killing us because we as a world just don't care. At lest that's what I think as an 8th grader - N Nelson [April 2, 2014]
Mr, Ortiz just because there is a ton of jets in the sky does not mean that is the only thing that is makeing a big impact on the Atmospher. Do you really think that jets are the problem? - N Nelson [April 2, 2014]
thank u - simparashe [March 17, 2014]
THIS IS VERY INFORMATIVE... - aubrey dEAN [March 5, 2014]
Thank you so much!
I had a science project on this and this helped tremendously!
- Sharro [March 4, 2014]
its very helpful and easy to understand - ADARSH [February 24, 2014]
Jet engine emission has already been controled by international body.It regulates the production of fossil fuel that can not deplete the O3.Protecting our life support system is a collective responsibility.I love this indept awareness because it is my profession. - Oruama. [February 11, 2014]
Thank you so much it is very helpful. - zodwa mnguni [February 9, 2014]
thank u for the valuable information... - aravintharun [February 5, 2014]
it made me know the things i didn't know before - Gladness H [February 4, 2014]
IT VERY HELPFUL - JASMIN A [February 3, 2014]
thanx alot - SALIM MOHAMMED [January 29, 2014]
thanks alot. - MORGAN T.R [January 25, 2014]
Thanks a lot its very helpful - M.Zubair Saleem [January 23, 2014]
Has anyone other than myself noticed that NOTHING is ever mentioned about JET ENGINES depleting our atmosphere? Do you actually believe that the extreme heat of hundreds jet engines if not maybe thousands would have no affect on the thin layer of atmosphere? Consider the thin layer of air at 33,000 to 45,000 feet into the atmosphere and then the heat of thousands of jet engines in the atmosphere at once. How long have we been using jet engines? - R. Ortiz [January 16, 2014]
Jet engines in our upper atmosphere are what is depleting our atmosphere and nothing else. Water heated in a pot - boils and evaporates at sea level; now consider the thin layer of atmosphere with hundreds of jets in the upper atmosphere at one time AND this has been going on since the forties. Anything else released into the atmosphere would be trapped in the atmosphere but not the extreme heat of the hundreds of jets that are in the upper atmosphere where the air is VERY thin. - R. Ortiz [January 16, 2014]
Itz much helpuf ...thanks - FRAVIUS DAUDI [January 7, 2014]
IT'S VERY VERY HELPFULL
THNX !
- NIKS [January 5, 2014]
nice - Sonu [December 30, 2013]
not that bad - Net [December 25, 2013]
its exactly what i need whoever wrote it, its brilliant - shiny [December 2, 2013]
thanx it helped me in my science project - shiny [December 2, 2013]
wow!dis z so helpful.. - Ankitha dev [November 25, 2013]
This is really amazing! It helps me with my homework - Aki [November 25, 2013]
Thia is very uswful for everone - Ganesh Khairmod [November 18, 2013]
stop using ships and any vehicles - meredith [November 17, 2013]
Very intresting site - Choudhury Abdul [November 7, 2013]
It's simply d truth FRIENDS thks. - Happy Angel [November 4, 2013]
It is good power point - mulualem nibret [November 3, 2013]
if we all try i am sure we will be able to protect it - mann [September 15, 2013]
very important article. - krishna kharel [August 21, 2013]
Helpful - Retar [July 22, 2013]
Change in the sea level due to snow & ice melting. - Mathew Karengi. [July 18, 2013]
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION - ABIOLA [May 20, 2013]
I need 2 kw d development of ozone layer - loveth adenike [May 9, 2013]
Hello people im now single so im waiting for the right guy i just love to type! - JenniferLopez [February 1, 2013]
This stuff is true so listen it this ok ;) - JenniferLopez [February 1, 2013]
I like it .you really help me - Bro Bulus Bello [November 23, 2012]
thanx for dis article... - pragati singh [September 7, 2012]
nyc article on ozone... - pragati [September 7, 2012]
IN BIOLOGY,A SPECIES IS SMALLEST AND BASIC UNIT OF ENV. - H.P [June 5, 2012]
ABOUT 90% of ozone of atmosphere resides in stratosphere (16to40km) layer of atmosphere as ozone layer. - HEMANT S [June 5, 2012]
tanks 2 d producer of this article.i have acquird much nd clear understanding from it - george obiamaka [June 2, 2012]
I like it:D - sugam karki [May 19, 2012]
Very good information - sugam karki [May 19, 2012]
this article gives a lot of valuable things really impressed - gurpreet bedi [May 13, 2012]
Well,i gained more knowledge out of this. impressed! - Rick [May 7, 2012]
i love u all - Dr rouf [May 3, 2012]
please i want to know what could be done about the correction of ozone layer? - goodluck.chimez [March 26, 2012]
This is a helpful website! - Lilyian m, [March 14, 2012]
...cool... - reem badra [March 4, 2012]
nice but thats not what iam looking for - amar moon [March 4, 2012]
this article is nice.. - prasin deshmukh [February 21, 2012]
I want to know the effects ozone layer depletion - Taisha Wilson [February 20, 2012]
I want to know the effects of ozone layer depletion - Jessica Dorce [February 20, 2012]
Hope this ozone layer issue can be solved. - Zainab m [February 19, 2012]
what effects it have on the earth? - safia asgher [February 1, 2012]
Whattt? - The Other Moose [January 31, 2012]
AND PANCAKES! :D - The Other Moose [January 31, 2012]
papa moose is in love with the other moose - agent moose [January 31, 2012]
go waffles! - papa moose [January 31, 2012]
What? - The Other Moose [January 31, 2012]
i love the ooo zone - agent moose [January 31, 2012]
guys guess wat u cant tell anybody - papa moose [January 31, 2012]
I used to be THE BIG MOOSE, but now you can call me THE BAD MOOSE! - the bad moose [January 31, 2012]
It's only the awesomest moose ever(; lol jk. It's Laura. - The Other Moose [January 31, 2012]
whos the other moose - papa moose [January 31, 2012]
this needs more picturs - dr. moose [January 31, 2012]
im back - papa moose [January 31, 2012]
Hayy fellow mooses! - The Other Moose [January 31, 2012]
it acctualy papa moose - papa moose [January 31, 2012]
hay - hooooood [January 31, 2012]
ozone is kindve moosy! - The big moose [January 31, 2012]
due to this ozone layer depletion many skin problem are caused so qucikly the solution of this problem should be take out - shweta suna [January 23, 2012]
if you want to save the ozone layer you should know how to recycle everything. - Persia Lagrimas [January 19, 2012]
THE OZONE LAYER REPARATION OF MY IDEA COMMISSIONING MISSION, IS VERY VERY MUCH IMPORTANT THING TO ME TO CALL FOR HELP FROM THE GLOBAL CONCERN PATRIOTS TO HELP ME SINCE I HAVE THE BRAIN POWER TO HEAL THE SAID CALL MISSION, I HAVE THE IDEA BRAIN POWER BRANT, BUT DON'T HAVE THE RESOURCE, ETC. - ERIC MELKING LE [January 13, 2012]
awesome - piya [January 2, 2012]
Very intres. article.Helped in my Geo Proj - MANOJ [December 31, 2011]
I LOVE TO PREVENT OZONE LAYER - MERCY [December 28, 2011]
i like earth - lion [December 28, 2011]
good written by chandramita bora., because of u all, we r getting the proper information., for this people may get aware...thanking u... - baibhav kumar [December 19, 2011]
this link is so good for my lessons and project - jovansel solare [December 11, 2011]
Think about your future generation and think about yourself that you are on a bad with meny sceen deases. so pleas understand it and do somthing for yourself at any level. thanks... - arjun thakur [November 27, 2011]
it is very big problem for our future so we have need to take care of it. we have need to understood it. so it my heartly reqest for all the persons who are reading this please tink about it and take action for yourself and for your future. thanks... - Arjun thakur [November 27, 2011]
I like ur ansr it is easy to understand - Pankaj B [November 21, 2011]
IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND - RAY [November 16, 2011]
ozone layer gpt collrge da machi - subash.p [November 8, 2011]
thank u - pavani [November 6, 2011]
thanks for answer - genevieve [October 31, 2011]
Immediate attention giving so individual will not suffer is as a result we have incessant flood and acid rain - Oboh i.Collins [October 29, 2011]
If this chemical or gases can be lowered or eliminated,then will be safe from skin burn and other ozone issue - Oboh i.Collins [October 29, 2011]
Nice matter - Lanka raja [October 23, 2011]
THIS TOPIC IS INTERESTING - Jennifer A. [October 15, 2011]
The MONTREAL PROTOCOL acts of 1987 should be adopted by all countries and made Legal. - Ubak E. [October 13, 2011]
Ozone is a layer above the earth's surface that helps to protect the earth's surface from Ultraviolet rays from the sun. - Ubak E. [October 13, 2011]
This is good - Tolatemitope [September 26, 2011]
Its really interesting! - Renuka [September 15, 2011]
i am very interested - lory [August 31, 2011]
Its very helpful for studies. - Shilba [August 31, 2011]
I really enjoyed reading this articles. I am interested in a variety of additional science - siti aida syaki [July 19, 2011]
Inorder 2 reduce depletion their should be decrease in hydroxly radical, nutric acid nd others - Ijeoma nwokoye [July 8, 2011]
what can we do to stop d ozone layer depletion - okunade adejoke [July 3, 2011]
good job - adejoke [July 3, 2011]
it must be more informative - aishwarya [July 2, 2011]
i really need a "thesis statement" for the cause of depletion of the ozone layer - Lisa-Rose [June 21, 2011]
Which is the two most significant gases associated with the depletion of the ozone layer? - Esine E. [June 16, 2011]
This is a good defination and understandable. - mariam [June 11, 2011]
how many more years does the ozoneayer has to deplet completely? - abraham prince [June 8, 2011]
i need it for my project,thankyou.
you need to detail the essey
- suprotik [May 27, 2011]
i cant understand anything can u make it more easy please? - rockstar [May 15, 2011]
To detailed for students, probably summerise abit - rtyhwejrf [May 12, 2011]
More comments and topics should be posted so as to seek for the causes, effects and impliment solution to it. - Esther Williams [May 6, 2011]
I think there should be man made possoble remedy of ozone depletion - Esther [May 6, 2011]
Does anyone know when this article was last updated? I need it for a project, thanks - Kendra [April 21, 2011]
i never know how cool ozone deplition was - killacodes13 [April 4, 2011]
This is good, but a section on "What we can do to help stop ozone depletion" - Marko [March 31, 2011]
Valuable tips - Dracula [March 29, 2011]
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR OUR EARTH, PRECAUTION THAT WE HAVE TO TAKE. THESE ARE VERY TERRIBLE EFFECTS I MEAN I HATE THESE STUFF. WE SHOULD NOT USE SO MUCH CFC'S. WE SHOULD REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF HARMFUL CFC'S...:( - ANGEL [March 28, 2011]
ozone deplition is cool - killacodes13 [March 25, 2011]
awsome info - bhavana [March 8, 2011]
What is the position of the atmosphere as regard to the depletion of the ozone. - solomon [February 28, 2011]
the ozone layer facts are very esential to humanbeings and also plants so people should be aware and take caution - Faith Dorcas [February 18, 2011]
..SOLUTION IS SIMPLE..dont waste water,plant more trees,share what we know about this..less in using cfc's-rich things or gadgets.. - cherelle bundal [February 17, 2011]
.guys..please dont ignore what's happening today,,i've already finished my report in this topic..nalaman ko tuloy na 1 molecule of chlorine can destroy 100,000 molecules of ozone in just a few minutes...look at this...glaciers on north and south pole were starting to melt...by the way its not too late if we start it today.. - cherelle bundal [February 17, 2011]
Its a very serious problem and it must be check - Abhishek goala [February 15, 2011]
affects of ozone depletion are,eyes,skin,immune,crops and marine life. - unathi vukeka [February 7, 2011]
Nice write up,bt i'm yet to know what we as individuals can do to reduce this depletion. - Clara O [February 7, 2011]
niceee... - Rithusrk S [January 31, 2011]
..earth is only one...before its too late..on my own..i start to save the earth - cherelle bundal [January 13, 2011]
IT'S BETTER THAN ANY OTHER ONES - BHARANI [January 11, 2011]
it is lasy to read so from make it shorte. Example: Do dogs eat? Answer: yes - Troy [January 7, 2011]
VERY NICE INFORMATION - SWATHI KUNTLA [January 7, 2011]
I LOVE OZONE LAYER DEPLETION - DEEPAK [January 7, 2011]
ozone layer ,global warming - swathi [January 7, 2011]
Yeah ozone depletion is increasing lets save it - Akash Saha [January 5, 2011]
we humans are the first who cause this! we are the ones who destroy the nature! There soon will come a war of water and ozone layer depletion! - ZuleSushiito00 [January 3, 2011]
its really an useful information... - Arya sree. s [January 1, 2011]
we want to prevent our nation from UV rays ... by avoid using plastics , coal , fuel , petrol , instead of using this we can use this solar energy ... - vigneshwaran [December 31, 2010]
that true - sarah [November 29, 2010]
very nice artical - lindsey [November 22, 2010]
my question is, "what are the effects of insecticides to the ozone layer?"
if you could answer it,good..because its my assignment..and i can't figure it out..
- frances [November 10, 2010]
the world isnt ending in 2012 - rye rye' [November 9, 2010]
I think we should start something very fast like afforestation and let people know the the implication of Global warming. - blessing [November 8, 2010]
THE CONCEPT IS VERY USEFUL - SANCHIT [October 31, 2010]
How can the ozone layer be rectified - abiodun [October 24, 2010]
try more ,but good - kavyadevandra [October 16, 2010]
ITS WONDERFUL AND SMART PRESEN TATION - AMIT [October 15, 2010]
human should be careful about ozone layer. - sahiba [October 13, 2010]
what is ultraviolet radiation? - Jessica E [October 12, 2010]
we will save earth - xyz123 [October 3, 2010]
really ozone depletion is a serious problem now a days every body should try to control it from their part - ratish leo [September 14, 2010]
i m happy and satisfied to all the important information of ozone layer .i got first in elocution on the topic OZONE LAYER DEPLETION.thanx... - suhana [September 8, 2010]
from this paragraph I came to many effects of ozone depletion.I was very happy to read it.I really like it. - tanya [August 21, 2010]
For human race to be protected against extinction,we must protect ourselves - Adegbite Yinka [August 12, 2010]
not too good - Aish [August 9, 2010]
ITHANK THE BEST WAY TOHUNDLE THE ISSUE IS THAT ALL COUNTRIES SHOULD EMBARK ON PREVENTIVE MEASURES SO THAT THIS ISSUE DOES NOT ESCALATE.THE EARLIER WE ACT THE MORE WE CAN SAVE THIS LOVELY PLANET AGAINST ULTRA VIOLENT EFFECTS.BYEKWASO RONALD .ASTUDENT OF KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY IN UGANDA. - BYEKWASO RONALD [July 27, 2010]
i think that people should stop air pollution because it tears the ozone layer apart. - iheoma [May 29, 2010]
chicken thursday - mATT [May 25, 2010]
The effects of ozone depletion are not limited to humans only, as it can affect animals and plants as well. It can affect important food crops like rice by adversely affecting cyanobacteria, which helps them absorb and utilize nitrogen properly. Phytoplankton, an important component of the marine food chain, can also be affected by ozone depletion. Studies in this regard have shown that ultraviolet rays can influence the survival rates of these microscopic organisms by affecting their orientation and mobility. - peter [May 21, 2010]
its cool - davar fayaz [May 12, 2010]
I LOVE POLLUTION - DADDY RO [May 11, 2010]
we will remove pollution - azmi jamal [April 24, 2010]
I strongly feel the protection or conservation of the ozone layer should come from the elimination of its harmful bi-product or the treatment of gaseous poisons by industries before releasing them into the air. - Deji OSO [March 29, 2010]
i feel the ozone layer in the lower part of the atmosphere is more of radiated heat not of ozone,please i stand to be corrected. - Deji Oso [March 29, 2010]
this information very useful i like it - abdul akeel [March 8, 2010]
its very nice - saurabh mishra [March 8, 2010]
NICE INFORMATION - KAJAL GODHANIYA [March 3, 2010]
WE SHOULD BRING AWARENESS ABOUT TO SAVE OZONE LAYER TO ALL THE PEOPLE THROUGH TELEVISION SO THAT EVERYONE WILL TRY TO SAVE PRECIOUS OZONE LAYER. - KAJAL GODHANIYA [March 3, 2010]
this is a very good site and accounts to my study needs - adi [February 17, 2010]
what are the subsequent curse of ozone layer dipletion? - u.n. dakiri bob [February 9, 2010]
good - guru [February 4, 2010]
i think the ozone layer is now becoming a problem to all the people of africa which is the greatest problem we are facing and as time goes on we hve to do something about that - Mansil Mohammed [February 4, 2010]
let us save the earth - janae [January 28, 2010]
The main cause for this very situation is humans and their creation - ANNA [January 24, 2010]
would u give me the demo? - chhaya k [January 20, 2010]
gud day! - meanne [December 12, 2009]
SOIUTION TO PREVENT OZONE LAYER DEPLETION - BENITEZ [November 30, 2009]
NOW WHAT IS THE SOLUTION ASIT STAND - BENITEZ [November 30, 2009]
good - nilu [November 18, 2009]
expected to have some videos and photos - ABC [November 15, 2009]
Interesting - Tiffany [November 4, 2009]
on buzzul very usefull information addede - rahul [October 26, 2009]
very less information on the topic - rideema [October 24, 2009]
slution to prevent ozone layer depletion - ken o [September 9, 2009]
nice - kalpesh panchal [September 7, 2009]
as a student i am telling this site is nice to get information for students - teena [September 3, 2009]
its worthless, try to make it more better,nonsense,disgusting,ridiculous - rajamati [July 21, 2009]