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Ozone Layer

When freons were discovered first, it was thought as a "boon" to industry, but very soon it turned out to be a "curse" to the environment. CFC’s are synthetic compounds of chlorine, fluorine and carbon and are often referred to by the trade name "freon". CFC is commonly used as a refrigerant in air conditioning, as propellants, as solvents, and also as foaming agents. They exist as colourless and odourless gases. They are light and also cheap. Unlike other pollutants, they are stable in troposphere and can remain stable for over a century. However, if it percolates into the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) they absorb U.V radiation and get photolysed(decomposes due to the absorption of light) to liberate chlorine atoms. These chlorine atoms catalyse the decomposition of ozone resulting in the "depletion of the ozone layer".


In the above reaction, ozone is converted into oxygen, thereby decreasing the density of ozone in stratosphere. This results in the formation of the so-called holes in the ozone layer. These holes have been observed at the north and the south poles by scientists. They allow more of the U.V radiation from the sun to fall on the earth, causing a number of problems like irritation of the skin, ultimately leading to skin cancer and damaging of the eyes causing cataract of the eyes. So, the environmentalists all over the world met in Canada in 1987 and agreed to freeze the production and use of CFC’s at 1986 level. They also resolved to decrease the production by 20% by 1994, and 30% by the end of the century. Even if this occurs, it would take at least 50-100 years for the restoration of the already damaged or depleted ozone layer to the original / normal level.


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