Degrading the Ozone Layer

by Claribel Rosa Hidalgo on March 25, 2014

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NASA pinpoints causes of 2011 artic ozone hole [Map]

The ozone layer is very important for the environment and the health of humans. The ozone layer surrounds and protects the earth from ultraviolet light. It is important for us to realize that change has to be made in order to eliminate the negative effects caused by the depleting ozone layer. This includes malignant skin cancers and negative impacts on aquatic life.

There is a clear connection between ozone layer depletion and UVB radiation (US EPA 2011). The sun always releases a steady amount of UV radiation so if earth is receiving more radiation, it is due to the depletion of the ozone layer. Proof of this is seen in the Antarctic where the amount of radiation measured during an ozone hole can double as compared with no ozone hole.  The molecules found in the stratospheric ozone layer absorb UV rays that are between 310 to 200 nanometers wavelength (Maheshwari 2011). These radiations are harmful to the environment and humans which is why the ozone layer is so important for Earth. It doesn’t let those radiations reach us but the destruction of the ozone layer caused by chlorine or bromine containing compounds have destroyed ozone molecules causing UV rays to reach the Earth’s surface.

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Aging effects of UV exposure [Picture]

When UV radiations reach the skin, it increases the incidence of malignant skin cancer or melanoma. Melanoma is most commonly associated with chronic episodes of sunburn in light skinned people (Programme, Panel 2011). It is recommended that sunscreen should be worn at all times but especially when visiting the beach. UV radiation not only increases your chances of getting skin cancer but it also causes your skin to age faster. You will have many more wrinkles if you do not wear sunscreen as compared to those that do.

Apart from damaging the skin, UV radiation also damages the cornea and lens of the eyes.  There has also been a link observed between cataract and UVB radiation (US EPA 2011). Extreme exposure in the sun can lead to the development of cataract. There have also been studies conducted on animals that show that UV exposure decreases the immune response to skin cancers and other infectious agents (Maheshwari 2013). Wearing sunglasses and sunscreen are things people can do daily to help decrease the chances of getting skin cancer or have problems with their eyes. Apart from the negative effects on human health, it also effects aquatic life.

Increased UV radiation has a negative impact on the aquatic ecosystems as it affects the distribution of phytoplankton which are the foundation of the food web. If in the first level of the food web an organism is removed, it affects the entire web. UV radiation is important in regulating the interactions between plants and consumers (Programme, Panel 2011). This is why it is so important for us to take action and protect our ozone layer. It will not only harm humans, but the environment we live in.

Steps that can be taken by each individual help reduce the depletion of the ozone layer include recycling, planting trees, and using other forms of transportation. Trees help clean the air and recycling reduces waste. Carpooling, or biking reduces the use of gasoline (Ozone action). All these methods help improve the air quality which ultimately will help with the ozone depletion. To protect yourself from UV rays it is recommended to always wear sunscreen and sunglasses. These two things will help you avoid future damage to your skin and eyes.

References

Maheshwari, V. K, Maheshwari, S. R. (2013). Ozone Depletion -The degradation of the Earth`sprotective layer | Dr. V.K. Maheshwari, Ph.D. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from http://www.vkmaheshwari.com/WP/?p=645

NASA. (2013). NASA pinpoints causes of 2011 artic ozone hole. [Map]. Retrived from:http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2011-ozone-hole.html

Programme, U. N. E., & Panel, E. E. A. (2011). Environmental effects of ozone depletion and itsinteractions with climate change: progress report, 2011. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences11(1), 13–27. doi:10.1039/C1PP90033A

Ozone action (n.d). Retrieved February 28, 2014, from http://www.ozone.org/ozone depletion.html

US EPA, O. (2011). Health and Environmental Effects of Ozone Layer Depletion | Science |Ozone Layer Protection | US EPA. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/ozone/science/effects/

Word press. (2012). Aging effects of UV exposure. [Picture]. Retrieved from: http://nrf2geneactivator.wordpress.com/truescienceantiagingantioxidantcream/aging-effect/


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ken Berrong April 22, 2014 at 11:26 am

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