Facts about Ozone the Layer
We all may have used umbrellas to cover up from various situations like the sun’s scorching heat, heavy rain, etc. Similarly, our earth also has its unique umbrella to protect the world and its inhabitants from various conditions which we may not see with our naked eyes but would adversely affect us. This unique umbrella of the earth is called the ozone layer, which protects us from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Discovery of ozone
Although we may have heard several times about thinning the ozone and regaining the thickness of ozone, we do not have any clear-cut idea about when the ozone was formed. It was a fact that there were no ozone or such gases during which earth was formed. The only fact that is cent percent sure is there was no ozone when the earth was formed. Ozone was discovered in 1839 by Christian Schonbein, a chemist of Swiss origin. He learned about ozone while conducting a study on electric discharges.
He discovered it as a component that a spark in an electric discharge can easily produce. He named it ozone due to its strong odor. However, he was not able to understand the molecular constituents of the compound. The discovery of ozone is nothing but just a miracle for all of us. The two renowned scientists from Europe Henry Buission and Charles Farby awarded for calculating the thickness of ozone layer.
What is the ozone layer?
The ozone layer is a layer formed in the stratosphere of the earth’s atmosphere. It is a layer formed of oxygen molecules. Three oxygen molecules combine to create an ozone molecule. Such a large number of ozone molecules combine to form the ozone layer in the stratosphere of the atmosphere. This acts as a shield to protect the earth from various harmful rays of the sun that would harm the living creatures on earth if they fell on earth directly.
Facts About The Ozone Layer
Origin of ‘ozone’ – The word ‘ozone is derived from the Greek language. In Greek, ozone means smelly. It is named so because of its strong and intense odor. Ozone is a blue gas with a strong odour.
Formation of ozone- Ozone is formed as a result of the continued association and dissociation process. We know that there are ample amounts of oxygen molecules on earth. The ultraviolet radiation originating from the sun and reaching the earth’s atmosphere splits the molecular oxygen into two oxygen atoms. These free oxygen atoms combine with molecular oxygen atoms in the presence of free radicals to form ozone molecules. This is how the ozone layer is formed.
Ozone in temperature control- Ozone has a great role in the temperature control system on earth. Without the ozone layer, the earth might have been a frozen planet with little or no life on it. Ozone plays an important role in the temperature maintaining mechanism to create a temperature that supports life on earth.
Ozone, acting as a shield, traps sunlight on the earth’s atmosphere with the support of several greenhouse gases. This sunlight gets absorbed by the earth’s surface and radiates the heat, which is reflected by the ozone layer to maintain the earth’s optimum temperature.
Good ozone and bad ozone- Although we have discussed only the advantages of ozone, as every coin has a head and a tail, there exist both good ozone and bad ozone too, ozone when present everywhere, cannot be advantageous. It has to be present at the apt place in the stratosphere layer of the earth’s atmosphere to benefit it.
The layer of ozone present in the stratospheric layer is thus named good ozone. It is called so because it is the ozone that protects us from the sun’s harmful rays. But, the same ozone, when present at the ground level, is termed as bad ozone. It is named so because it causes several ill effects.
Medical ozone- Ozone is used in the context of medicine, too, and is of great medicinal use. It is often used in ozone therapy and is considered one of the most effective disinfectants.
Ozone therapy- Ozone is proven to have great healing effects on wounds and several diseases. Ozone therapy makes use of this ability. In ozone therapy, ozone is directly passed on to the patient’s body to heal their wounds and diseases.
Ozone treatment for water- Ozone is used as an effective method for purifying water. Ozone acts as a strong oxidizing agent. When the water is treated with ozone, it gets oxidized and becomes a broad spectrum biocide that can kill all kinds of organisms, causing impurity to the water.
Temperature of ozone- Ozone is found at almost a height of 15 to 25 kilometers above the earth. Here, the ozone temperature is approximately between 5230° C to 5730° C, except in some regions.
Ozone depletion- Ozone depletion has been one of the most discussed topics over the past few decades. Several elements and compounds like chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, etc., are the main cause of ozone depletion. Such compounds affect the association process to form the ozone molecule, disturbing the normal ozone balance on earth.
Ozone hole- Depletion of the ozone layer causes the thinning of the ozone layer in several areas. The harmful UV rays penetrate directly to the earth’s atmosphere through these thinned areas. Such areas are ozone than the normal is called ozone hole. It was during the 1980s that the first ozone hole was found in Antarctica. Through active and nature-friendly measures taken, we have now regained the normal thickness of the ozone layer in Antarctica.
Total ozone distribution- Ozone is not something that is evenly distributed in all parts of the atmosphere. The distribution of ozone varies from layer to layer. Although the major part of the ozone layer is found in the stratospheric layer of the earth’s atmosphere, a small amount is found in the troposphere. The ozone layer is estimated to be located 15 to 25 kilometers above the earth’s surface.
Ill effects of ozone- Although we have discussed several benefits that the ozone layer provides, it has to be present at the apt layer to become beneficial. As discussed, ozone present at the ground level is of no use and creates serious ill effects. That is why it is termed bad ozone. Ground ozone, when inhaled, can cause health issues like chest pain, cough, congestion, throat irritation, etc.
It can also become very serious by worsening emphysema and asthma. Inhalation of ozone can also affect the functioning of the lungs and cause inflammation of its lining. It damages not only the lungs but also the airways through which we inhale them. They are also known to cause problems to the eyes like dryness, irritation, infections, etc.
Montreal Protocol- Montreal Protocol is an international treaty formed to reduce ozone depletion. Signed on 16th September 1987 at Montreal in Canada, 197 countries pledged to reduce the emission of substances that cause ozone depletion.
Although signed in 1987, it came into force on 1st January 1989 and had nine revisions till today to update with the existing situations of the current world. As a result, there has been a significant reduction in substances that cause ozone depletion over the last few decades.
World ozone day- The world ozone day, also known as International Day to preserve the ozone layer, is celebrated on the 16th of September. It aims to make us aware of the ozone layer’s importance and adopt measures to preserve it.
Benefits of the ozone layer
The benefits or advantages that the ozone layer can provide us are very vast. Most importantly, they act as a shield on the earth’s atmosphere to block the harmful UV rays. These UV rays, if directed on our bodies, can cause serious diseases. Exposure to UV rays is known to cause skin irritations, cataracts, premature aging and is also known to cause skin cancer in extreme cases. The ozone layer also benefits us by playing an integral role in temperature and climate moderation. Any other element or molecule cannot replace the role that ozone plays in making our lives easier.
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