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Explain causes and effects of ozone layer depletion. - Environmental Studies

Answer in Brief

Explain causes and effects of ozone layer depletion.

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Solution

Causes: 

  • The main things that lead to destruction of the ozone gas in the ozone layer. Low temperatures, increase in the level of chlorine and bromine gases in the upper stratosphere are some of the reasons that leads to ozone layer depletion. But the one and the most important reason for ozone layer depletion is the production and emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). This is what which leads to almost 80 percent of the total ozone layer depletion. 
  • There are many other substances that lead to ozone layer depletion such as hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Such substances are found in vehicular emissions, by-products of industrial processes, aerosols and refrigerants. All these ozone depleting substances remain stable in the lower atmospheric region, but as they reach the stratosphere, they get exposed to the ultra violet rays. This leads to their breakdown and releasing of free chlorine atoms which reacts with the ozone gas, thus leading to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Effects:

  •  In humans, exposure to UV rays can also lead to difficulty in breathing, chest pain, and throat irritation and can even lead to hampering of lung function.
  • UV rays affect other life forms too. It adversely affects the different species of amphibians and is one of the prime reasons for the declining numbers of the amphibian species. It affects them in every stage of their life cycle; from hampering the growth and development in the larvae stage, deformities and decreases immunities in some species and to even retinal damage and blindness in some species.
  •  UV rays also have adverse effect on the marine ecosystem. It adversely affects the planktons which plays a vital role in the food chain and oceanic carbon cycle. Affecting phytoplankton will in turn affect the whole ocean ecosystem.
  •  UV rays will also affect the plants. UV radiations can alter the time of flowering in some plant species. It can also directly affect the plant growth by altering the physiological and developmental processes of the plants.
Concept: Sources of Air Pollution
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