Effects of Ozone Layer Depletion on Environment
Author: Vaasawa Sharma
Designation: Law Faculty, Starex University, Gurugram
Email ID: email@example.com
Ozone Layer is the layer in the stratosphere that shields us from harmful ultraviolet radiations of the sun. These radiations can cause skin burns and skin cancer as well, if they reach us directly. But it is the gift of nature that we are being protected naturally by this ozone layer. This layer is made up of Oxygen atoms (O3) that surround earth. The Stratospheric Ozone layer is known as “good” ozone as approximately ninety percent of ozone is present in the stratosphere only. It is the result of specific chemical reactions taking place in the atmosphere. The oxygen reacts with sunlight to form single oxygen atoms. These single atoms unite with O2 molecules to form O3. The main thing that can be taken into consideration is that this ozone present in the atmosphere vanishes when it reacts with other gases such as nitrogen, chlorine, hydrogen or bromine.
The total mass of ozone in the atmosphere is about 3 billion metric tons but it constitutes only 0.00006 percent of the atmosphere, which is astonishing. The peak concentration of ozone occurs at an altitude of roughly 32 kilometers (20 miles) above the surface of the Earth. At that altitude, ozone concentration can be as high as 15 parts per million (0.0015 percent).
The constant increase in the temperature of earth contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. There are many natural as well as anthropogenic activities that cause this phenomenon to occur. The primary gases that are responsible for this, some of the prominent examples are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halon, methyl bromide, carbon dioxide, carbon tetrachloride etc. Moreover the emission of carbon dioxide by combustion of coal and oil increases global warming into the atmosphere. These gases are the result of aerosol spray cans, refrigerants, air conditioners etc.
Another major cause of depletion of the ozone layer is the emission of Nitrogenous Compounds like NO, NO2, N2O and chemical substances such as Chlorine and Bromine. In addition to that the other major factor is unregulated rocket launches which cause massive destruction to the atmosphere hence making ozone layer very tough to exist.
Vehicular exhaust also has a major role in contributing to spoiling the natural atmosphere. The smoke that is being emitted from automobiles is very harmful and is constantly spreading the huge amount of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. It causes several respiratory problems to human beings.
This can be very aptly being said that smoke causes ozone layer to deplete. Various volcanic active regions are also highly responsible for its depletion. The use of pesticides also causes harm to the ozone layer.
The presence of an ozone layer is a boon for our mother earth. It plays a vital role in protecting flora, fauna and aquatic ecosystems from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. If this layer continues to deplete then it shall definitely cause havoc to mankind.
Affects the growth of plants: The direct contact of UV radiations affects the process of photosynthesis which further slows down the growth of plants. As a result of which the plants do not attain the desired growth. The seedlings also get affected by this. The nitrogen-fixing bacteria present in the soil are also lost which nurtures the plants and seeds.
Threat to marine life: According to the International Team of Marine Scientists, the constant exposure to ultraviolet radiations causes marine plants and animals to die. The algae, corals, crustaceans and fish larvae are also facing the threat. This results in the disturbance of the marine ecosystem.
Effects on animals: The UV radiation causes the damage to DNA, proteins, membranes and lipids of living organisms. The animals that live at high altitude are exposed to direct and constant sunlight. This results in the damaging of cell DNA, increased mutation and inhibition of replication as well. In addition to this, the animals are also at risk of epidermoid carcinoma which is a malignant tumor which damages the epidermis (the uppermost layer of skin) of animals.
Effects on Agriculture: Various crops like oats, barley, tomatoes, carrots and cauliflower are sensitive to UV radiations. The trees and plants which are edible also get affected by their direct exposure to sunlight.
Effects on materials: The materials which we use in our daily life like plastic, fabrics, wood also damages due to UV radiations.
Effects on Humans: The exposure of harmful UV radiations causes sunburns, skin cancer, cataracts, conjunctiva, premature aging and weakening of the immune system. So, these radiations are deadly for us.
We should avoid the use of pesticides as they are largely responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer. Instead of using pesticides we should opt for other chemicals which are eco friendly. The fertilizers which are rich in Nitrogen content should be used.
Another point that needs urgent attention is deforestation. The cutting of forest results in environmental degradation. So, planting more and more trees also helps to save our environment.
The private vehicles should minimize the use of petrol and opt for CNG which causes less pollution. We need to remember that smog acts as a catalyst in the depletion of the environment.
The daily products which we use in our homes, factories, industries and offices should be made up of eco-friendly material.
3 R’s should be followed that is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
The protection homes for animals especially in tropical areas should be established so that our animals can be saved from UV rays.
The modern techniques should be used in agriculture to combat the effects of these rays.
The barren areas should be converted to thick vegetation cover to maintain the ecological balance.
The marine plants and animals should be fed with nutrient rich food so that they can cope up with UV radiations.
We should wear sunglasses and gloves to avoid the exposure to sunlight.
The depletion of the ozone layer is one of the major concerns. There should be more laws, rules and regulations to leave a deterrent effect on people. All the activities that cause environment pollution need to refrain. It is need of the hour to take up these issues very seriously to save our mother earth.
“The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.”-Lady Bird Johnson