About 18 to 30 miles above the surface of our earth, there is a layer of hot air. The warmth of this layer is caused because of the presence of ozone in it. Ozone is an allotrope of oxygen, that is, it has 3 atoms of oxygen in each of its molecules. Ozone absorbs Ultra-Violet rays coming from the sun. The hot ozone layer protects us from the most active ultraviolet rays and is essential for those living on earth.
In fact, think Ozone as a gas in the atmosphere that protects everything living on the Earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the Sun. Without the layer of ozone in the atmosphere, it would be very difficult for anything to survive on the surface. (Think of a very bad sunburn, only much worse!) Plants cannot live and grow in heavy ultraviolet radiation, nor can the plankton that serve as food for most of the ocean life. The ozone layer acts as a shield to absorb the UV rays, and keep them from doing damage at the Earth’s surface.
It has recently been found out by scientists that this life-saving Ozone layer is being damaged due to some harmful atoms which are released from the earth’s surface. This is called the depletion of Ozone layer.
Ozone is highly reactive gas. When chlorine atoms are produced by man-made chemicals like CFCs (chloroflourocarbons) used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, plastic foams, aerosols, etc., and reach the Ozone layer, the chlorine atoms break down the Ozone atoms. The chlorine into chlorine monoxide and oxygen gas is formed.
This destruction of Ozone molecules takes place at a faster rate near the poles. The phenomenon has been taking place for a long time but was discovered only in the year 1973 by American scientists, Dr. Sherry Rowlands and Dr. mario Molina.
Environmentalists and scientists all over the world are greatly concerned and are trying to save the vital Ozone-depleting substances which must be replaced by those not harmful. The dangerous “hole” created by the destruction of the Ozone molecules in the atmosphere could spell doom for mankind.