why is the ozone layer important to life on earth

Why Is The Ozone Layer Important To Living Things?

Nature has given us everything for us to live and have a basic life. All the conditions on the earth are primarily for all the living organisms to have a basic life, but we are not able to use those resources properly causing long-term damage to the life of humans. One of those damages is because of the Ozone layer depletion. In this article, we look deep into the formation, advantages, and disadvantages of the Ozone layer. And Mainly we discuss why is the ozone layer important to living things.

Before we discuss why is the ozone layer important to living things, we need to at least have basic knowledge of what is the ozone layer and its formation. And later we will know how it is useful to us.

What Is Ozone Layer?

Combination of O2 molecule and One oxygen atom is Ozone gas. It’s O3 (Ozone). Ozone gas is present in one of the atmospheric layers of the earth, that is Stratosphere which is above the troposphere.

The troposphere is 7 to 20 km thick and contains half of Earth’s atmosphere. And above it, the stratosphere is 20km to 50km thick. The Ozone is about 20 to 30 km altitude from the surface which is in the range of stratosphere.

Since the ozone is present around the earth like a layer, we call it the ozone layer. The ozone layer was discovered in 1913 by the French physicists Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson.

How Is Ozone Layer Formed?

Ozone is formed naturally and it is a continuous process called ozone-oxygen cycle. In this cycle due to the striking of ultraviolet rays on the Ozone ( O3), O3 will lose an Oxygen atom. And the oxygen atom will combine with another O2 forming O3 (Ozone).

Since the O3 (Ozone) very unstable. When UV light hits it, it will break again. And it is a continuous process.

About 90 percent of the ozone is present in the Stratosphere itself. Ozone density is greatest between about 20 and 40 kilometers above the surface, where they range from about 2 to 8 parts per million.

Fun fact is that, If all of the ozone (O3) is compressed to the pressure of the air at sea level, it would into 3 millimeters thick box.

Why Is The Ozone Layer Important To Living Things?

So we learned what is the ozone layer and its formation. But the main intention of this article is to know why is the ozone layer important to living things, So lets now discuss it.

If I say that ozone is also one of the reasons why we are living in perfect conditions on the earth, do you believe it? It is hard to believe, but it is true.

The reason is sun emits UltraViolet rays on to the earth. These rays are very dangerous and harmful to human beings and all other small creatures on earth. Nitrogen is one of the high-density gases of the atmosphere, UV radiation capable of penetrating that nitrogen. Based on its wavelength, these are  UV-A (400–315 nm), UV-B (315–280 nm), and UV-C (280–100 nm).

In which UV-C radiation is very harmful and creates damage to human life. Ozone and O2 absorb this UV-C radiation at the stratosphere. UV-B also very harmful and it is the main causes of sunburn.

It is also the main cause of skin cancer. excessive exposure to UV-B can cause immune system suppression and importantly causes cataract problems.

But we do not have to worry, because Ozone is very effective at screening out UV-B type radiation. At the top of the atmosphere, the intensity of the UV-B  with a wavelength of 290nm is 350 million times stronger than the surface of the earth.

Some longer wavelength UV-B comes down to earth, but it is useful for humans because it is the reason for Vitamin-D in our body.

However, it is important to note that, Ozone is very transparent to UV-A radiation. This type of UV radiation is less harmful to DNA, although it may still potentially cause premature aging of the skin, physical damage, skin cancer, and indirect genetic damage.

Ultraviolet radiations seriously damage our ecosystem if there is no Ozone Layer. Due to its high intensity, it can completely diminish the existence of smaller living organisms like bacteria, microbes, and fungi.

These small organisms play a key role in plants being able to process and absorb nutrients from the soil.

It is also estimated that half of our atmospheric oxygen has been generated by phytoplankton that lives in the ocean’s surface layer. A significant increase in UV light would diminish the phytoplankton population. Which result in diminishing the whole human ecosystem.

So Ozone plays a very important role in protecting us from the harmful ultraviolet radiations from the Sun.

Now you know why is the ozone layer important to living things. But we also have to know the reasons for ozone layer depletion and what are the ways we can avoid happening it.

How Is Ozone Layer Being Depleted?

We know the ozone is playing a very important role in protecting living things on earth. But we also have to know how the ozone layer is being depleted so as to find the ways to avoid happening them.

One of the most important reasons is the emission of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC). This is the main reason for most of the ozone layer depletion.

There are many other substances that lead to ozone depletion such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Vehicular emissions are the main reason for it.

These gases are stable at the lower atmospheric regions. But once they reach higher altitudes to the stratosphere, they get exposed to ultraviolet rays, this makes break down of chlorine atoms and then these chlorine atoms get reacted with other oxygen atoms in the ozone region. This results in depletion of the ozone layer.

If you are looking for a philosophical and science dimension of the ozone layer and its depletion, then the author Maureen Christie has something for you.

The Author Maureen Christie discusses Ozone layer in a philosophical way in science perspective in his book here at Amazon.

Christie uses the story of ozone as a case study for examining fundamental issues relating to the practice of modern science and the conduct of scientific debate. Linking key debates in the philosophy of science to an example of real-world science it is an excellent and thought-provoking introduction to the philosophy of science.

Effects Of Ozone Layer Depletion

Now we will see some of the important effects of ozone layer depletion.

Effects On Health:

Exposure to UV rays from the sun can lead to increased risk for developing of several types of skin cancers. Malignant melanoma, basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common cancers due to exposure to UV rays. 

UV rays are harmful to our eyes. Direct exposure to UV rays can lead to Cataract problems.

Our immune system is also highly vulnerable to UV radiation. Increased exposure to UV rays will lead to the weakening of the response of the immune system and even impairment of the immune system.

Exposure to UV rays will lead to the aging process of your skin. This makes people look older than they are. 

Effects On Plants:

Ultraviolet rays negatively affect the development process of plants. And also the distribution of plants nutrients and metabolism.

These changes will have important implications for plant herbivory, competitive balance, plant diseases, and biogeochemical cycles. UV-B affects overall plant’s growth directly.

Effects On Marine Systems:

Fish, shrimp, crab, amphibians, and other marine animals will have early development issues due to UV-B radiation. Decreased reproductive capacity and impaired larval development are the most serious effects.

A small increase in UV-B exposure could result in a huge effect on the entire marine food chain.

The ozone is depletion can diminish Phytoplankton, Phytoplankton is the main foundation of food aquatic web. The developmental growth of the Phytoplankton is affecting due to heavy UV-B radiation.

Effects on Materials:

UVB radiation affects Synthetic polymers, biopolymers, as well as some other materials. Today special additives are protecting these materials from UV-B. Yet, increases in UV-B levels will speed up their breakdown.

Example, we use PVC (polyvinyl chloride) banners and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) stickers at outdoor displays rather than normal banners. PVC can be an additive here.

How To Protect Ozone Layer?

Protection of ozone is very important, it is not just important to one person or one country. It is important for every living thing on the Earth.

  1. Using electric vehicles instead of Petrol and diesel cars. These fuel cars emit smog which damages the ozone layer. Use bicycle and walk for near distances rather than depending more on the vehicles.
  2. Do not buy aerosol products with chlorofluorocarbons like hairspray, deodorants, and household chemicals. Before buying them check the label too if they contain CFCs.
  3. Dispose of pre-1995 refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioning units. because they contain chlorofluorocarbons and they leak chemicals into the atmosphere.
  4. Avoid using wood products treated with methyl bromide. Wood treated with this pesticide will leak elemental bromine that depletes the ozone layer. All pallets or crates carry a stamp containing treatment information.
  5. Rocket launches should have regulations for protecting the ozone layer.
  6. Banning the use of nitrous oxide is also helpful in protecting the ozone layer. Nations got together in 1989 and formed the Montreal Protocol. The main aim behind this was to stop the usage of CFCs. But, the protocol did not include nitrous oxide which is the chemical that can destroy the ozone layer and is still in use.

Facts About The Ozone Layer

  1. French physicists, Charles Fabry, and Henri Buisson discovered ozone in 1913.
  2. If all of the ozone (O3) were compressed to the pressure of the air at sea level, it would be 3 millimeters thick.
  3. Canada, Norway, and the U.S  have banned the use of CFC aerosol sprays altogether.
  4. It is being said that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket tore a hole in the atmosphere.
  5. By the year 2050, the ozone layer may recover if we stop using ozone layer-damaging substances.
  6. Ozone is blue gas with a pungent smell.
  7. The hole in the ozone layer was discovered above the Antarctic in 1985. It has improved following a ban on the use of CFCs.
  8. In the First World War, ozone was used to treat gangrene and trench foot and to disinfect wounds.
  9.  The ozone layer has a thickness of 20 km in the stratosphere.
  10. Ozone layer hole can also cause a significant increase in temperatures.
  11. Ozone gas is very unstable.
  12. The ozone layer is in gaseous form because it has a very low boiling point: i.e. -112 degrees Celsius.
  13. In order to remind us of the importance of ozone layer, UN started annual commemorative event on September 16th of each year. This is the International Day For The Protection Of The Ozone.
  14. After a lightning storm, you will smell a pungent scent in the air, this may well be ozone. That is in small quantities when lightning strikes.
  15. hole in the ozone layer is not actually a hole, but it is less ozone in that particular region than it used to be. in North and South poles there will high chances of less ozone because of coldness there.

Now we have not only discussed why is the ozone layer important to living things, but also effects of depletion, ways to protect ozone and also seen some of the interesting facts about the ozone. Thank you.

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Sandesh Naroju

Being a nature lover, I feel it is my responsibility to show the real environmental problems that we are facing in this world to the public. I talk about Environmental problems, Nature and Life.

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