Causes of Ozone Layer Depletion
Understanding What Causes of Ozone Layer Destruction (...think HCFC refrigerant gases)
There are many causes of ozone layer depletion, all of them man-made compounds that enter the atmosphere. They are chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), methyl bromide, halons, methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. Once they have been released into the atmosphere, they remain there for as long as 200 years.
Although there are numerous causes of ozone layer depletion, chloroflurocarbons have been identified as being the most damaging. These gases are used in many different industries in various ways.
One example is the refrigerant gas used to run refrigeration and air-conditioning systems and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Chloroflurocarbons are also used in firefighting equipment, aerosols, the production of installed foam and anesthetics.
Years of research have determined that chloroflurocarbons top the list of causes of ozone layer depletion because they are not destroyed by rain or broken down in the lower atmosphere. Once they reach the stratosphere, the sun’s ultraviolet rays break down the compound, thus releasing chlorine. This resulting chlorine is what damages the ozone in a repetitive process. In fact, one chlorine atom will continue to destroy the ozone for as long as two years.
The main causes of ozone layer depletion are the gases fluorine, chlorine and bromine, which are found in manmade halocarbons. Chlorine and bromine, in particular, have been identified as the major links to ozone depletion.
Chlorine atoms result from chloroflurocarbons molecule, while bromine atoms result from halons. While chloroflurocarbons and halons are safe to use and cause no harm to the environment, they cause substantial damage to the stratosphere.
Causes of Ozone Layer Depletion Trigger Earth Damage
Free radicals, including hydroxyl, nitric oxide, atomic chlorine and bromine, are causes of ozone layer depletion. Currently, hydroxyl and nitric oxide occur in the stratosphere naturally. But chlorine and bromine are a result of human activity and their levels in the atmosphere are ever increasing.
The causes of ozone layer depletion trigger damage to the earth from the resulting high levels of ultraviolet rays or radiation exposure. Skin cancer will increase, the immune system in humans and animals will be weakened, plants will be damaged and plankton in oceans will be reduced. The entire balance of the earth’s life system will be impacted.
Causes of Ozone Layer Depletion Leads to Global Warming
Once various compounds were identified as causes of ozone layer depletion, protocols were put into place to decrease their usage. They include the U.S. Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocols. Their sole purpose is to reduce or phase-out substances that damage the ozone layer.
Even with these efforts, it would take another century before these damaging substances totally disappear from the stratosphere. Once they do, the ozone layer can recuperate and return to its normal state in about 100 years.
Damage to the stratospheric ozone was first identified in 1974. If the causes of ozone layer depletion are not addressed, the end result would be global warming. As the temperature of the earth rises, weather events, like more droughts and stronger hurricanes, would occur and ice caps and glaciers would melt. As the ozone layer continues to wear down, the earth would be in direct contact with the sun’s heat and its damaging ultraviolet rays.