Ozone is a molecule of 3 oxygen atoms.
It is a powerful oxidant, and is found in the stratosphere of the atmosphere. This is about at 15kms height. The ozone shield had protected the earth life from the UV rays of direct exposure to sun. But unfortunately with our increased urbanization and industrialization we tend to release large amount of Halocarbons that is carbons tied to Halogens into the atmosphere. This in turn acts with ozone and a tear in the ozone layer is created. Bromine and Chlorine tied halocarbons are most dangerous.
The entire phenomenon of the Ozone hole was identified in 1974 by two scientists Mario Molina and Frank Sherwood Rowland.
Uses of Ozone:
- Water purification, drinking water, bottled water, swimming pool, industrial wastewaters cooling towers, groundwater remediation, wastewater re-use.
- Air purification, gas emission from industry, conditioning system.
- Pulp bleach for chlorine free production of paper
- Organic synthesis
- Aquaculture and fishing farming.
- Food processing, rinsing water, food preservation
- Surface treatment semiconductor manufacture, inorganic production
- Medicine and aesthetics Ozone therapy, surgery, dental care, optical care, manufacture of pharmaceutical beauty products.
Ozone is formed when heat and sunlight cause chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons. These reactions occur both near the ground and high in the atmosphere. When it is in the stratospheric zone it good for it shields the earth from UV-radiation.
Ozone near the earth however is bad news. It harms the human health and environment. For ozone to get formed at the earth, Nitrogen-oxides, hydrocarbons and UV- radiation are required. Increased in UV radiation during summer leads to higher ground levels of Ozone. Usually it is the Urban areas that contain the emission sources for ground level ozone, however strong winds can send it to rural pockets too.
Increased ozone levels cause respiratory conditions such as asthma, breathlessness, wheezing and coughing.
Ways to reduce ground Ozone, and increase Stratospheric Ozone:
- Avoid consumption of gases dangerous to ozone layer. These are the halocarbons. It could be either the products that contain them or the use halocarbons in the manufacture process.
- Minimize the use of car. Especially in Urban areas where bicycle might be a better option to travel.
- Do not use cleaning products that are concentrated with chlorine or Bromine. Replace chemical cleansers with bicarbonate or vinegar.
- Buy local this cuts out on transportation and storage both of which are Ozone layer unfriendly.
- If you own air conditioners keep them well maintained.