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Ozone Depletion

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"In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments--there are consequences."

Robert G. Ingersoll (1833 - 1899)

The ozone layer plays an important role in the atmosphere. It protects life on earth from the full force of the sun's cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. However, many household products and appliances release substances to the atmosphere that causes the hole in the ozone layer. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used as refrigerants and aerosol spray propellants, is the main cause of ozone depletion. When these chemicals are released into the atmosphere, it is broken down by sunlight and destroys the ozone layer. Ozone depletion may lead to serious problems not only to environment and materials but also in human health.

Effects on human health. Ozone depletion decreases the atmosphere's natural protection from harmful ultraviolet rays and an increase in the risk of health effects. Ultraviolet rays cause nonmelanoma skin cancer, this type of cancer if left untreated, can spread throughout the body causing disfigurement and more serious health problems. Rays can also cause premature aging of the skin which can later on lead to squamous cell carcinoma.

Ozone depletion can lead to cataracts and other eye problems. Cataracts are a form of eye damage in which a loss of transparency in the lens of the eye clouds vision. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness. Other kinds of eye damage include pterygium (tissue growth that can block vision), skin cancer around the eyes, and degeneration of the macula (the part of the retina where visual perception is most acute).

Effects on environment. Ultraviolet rays affect plant growth by changing the plant's form, distribution of nutrients within the plant, timing of developmental phases and secondary metabolism. These effects have important implications for plant competitive balance, herbivory, and plant diseases.

Radiation has been found to cause damage to early developmental stages of animals. It decreases reproductive capacity and causes impaired larval development in animals. Exposure to ultraviolet rays could result in significant reduction in the size of the population of animals.

Ozone depletion leads to the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. With an increase in carbon dioxide, the earth has a threat of experiencing global warming. Global warming is an increase in the average temperature of the atmosphere, oceans, and landmasses of Earth. Because of ozone depletion, UV rays can easily pass through the earth's atmosphere. Rays are trapped which result to an increase in temperature. Global warming will affect the weather, sea levels, coastlines, agriculture, wildlife, and human health.

Effects on materials. Materials used for construction



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