Ozone is a molecule that is abundant in the atmosphere in its gaseous form and it is composed of three oxygen atoms, which are located in the troposphere and extended throughout the stratosphere a layer 18 to 50 kilometers above the earth’s surface. The ozone layer forms a thick layer in the stratosphere, which rounds the earth with a large amount of ozone in it.
It was discovered by French physicists Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson in 1913. the ozone atmospheric concentration varies naturally depending on weather, temperature, altitude, and latitude, while substances occurring as a result of natural events can also affect ozone levels.
In the ozone, we have molecules of oxygen that act as a blanket that protects us from ultraviolet radiation (direct contact with sunlight). The harmful rays of the ultraviolet can lead to the risk of deadly diseases like cataracts, skin cancer, and damage to the immune system.
The rays are also capable of damaging terrestrial plant life, single-cell organisms, alteration of growth, biochemical cycles, food chain/food web, and aquatic ecosystems.
The phenomena behind the activity of the ozone layer are that the ozone molecules absorb a portion of the ultraviolet radiation and send it back to space at this instance the amount of radiation reaching the earth is minimized.
However, human activity such as industrialization has contributed to the depletion of the ozone layer. It has been discovered that the depletion of the ozone layer is due to the presence of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other halogen-source gases in the stratosphere which are known as Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS).
These substances are synthetic chemicals, which were used around the world in a wide range of industrial and consumer applications. These substances are used in refrigerators, fire extinguishers, and air conditioners. They are also insulation foams as solvents and blowing agents and aerosols propellants.
Thereby creating a hole in the ozone, this hole which is found in the poles of the Artic ocean, and the Antarctic Ocean allowing the penetration of a large quantity of ultraviolet radiation down to the earth. Gases that are been emitted by both anthropogenic and natural factors end up in the stratosphere and reduce the ozone molecules, thereby increasing the size and effect of this hole in the ozone layer.
This has become an environmental challenge as it poses threat to life forms on the planet. most of the ozone-depleting substances emitted by human activities are abundant in the stratosphere for decades which entails that the ozone layer recovery is a very slow, long process. Hence, there is a need to reduce the rate at which the ozone layer is been depleted.
10 Ways to Reduce Ozone Depletion
- Strict implementation of Convention and Protocol
- Reduce Consumption of ozone-depleting gases
- Reduction in the Use of Vehicles
- Avoid products made with Ozone-Depleting Substances
- Reduction in the use of Imported Products
- Maintenance of Air Conditioners and Refrigerators
- Use of Energy Saving Gadgets and Bulbs
- Use of Refrigerator and Air Conditioners that is Chlorofluorocarbons Free
- Reduce Meat Consumption
- Legislation and Sensitization of Human Population
1. Strict implementation of Convention and Protocol
To reduce the depletion of the ozone layer, countries around the world agreed to stop using ozone-depleting substances. This agreement was signed in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985 and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987.
The main Substances covered by the protocol include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), Halons, Carbon Tetrachloride, Methyl Chloroform, and Methyl Bromide all these substances are referred to as ‘controlled substances.
The damage to the ozone layer caused by each of these substances is expressed as their ozone depletion potential (ODP). In 2009, the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol became the first treaties in the history of the United Nations to achieve universal ratification.
2. Reduce Consumption of Ozone-Depleting Gases
There is a need to avoid the use of gases dangerous to the ozone layer, these gases are used as content the facilitate the working principles of some equipment or even used as raw materials in the manufacturing process in industries. Some of the most dangerous gases are Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Halogenated Hydrocarbon, Methyl Bromide, and Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
3. Reduction in the Use of Vehicles
Buses, cars, trucks, and other vehicles emit Nitrogen Oxides (N2O) and hydrocarbons which lead to air pollution and also affect the ozone layer. Therefore, to reduce the rate of ozone depletion, public transport, carpooling, gradual increase in car speed, hybrid or electric cars, bicycles, or walking can be used for short distant travel. This can help minimize the use of petroleum-voracious vehicles which in turn reduces air pollution.
4. Avoid products made with Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODSs)
Some of the products such as cosmetics, aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams, hairspray, and cleaning products we make use of are harmful to us and to the environment because they are made of ozone-depleting substances such as nitrous oxide, halogenated hydrocarbons, methyl bromide, hydrofluorocarbons(HCFCs) which are corrosive, however, they can be replaced with non-harmful or eco-friendly products such as blue land, dropps, common good, vinegar, Ecos, Pur home, etc.
5. Reduction in the use of Imported Products
Purchase local products. In this way, one not only gets fresh products but you avoid consuming food that has traveled long distances. Nitrous oxide will be produced by car engines that bring the food and goods ordered due to long-distance travel. Hence the need to patronize locally made food and goods, not only for the freshness of the food but for the protection of the ozone layer.
6. Maintenance of Air Conditioners and Refrigerators
The main cause of the depletion was traced back to the indiscriminate use of refrigerators and air conditioners containing Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The malfunctioning of refrigerators and air conditioners can cause Chlorofluorocarbon to escape into the atmosphere. Therefore, regular servicing of the equipment is advised alongside the proper disposal in case, not in use.
7. Use of Energy Saving Gadgets and Bulbs
As house owners, energy-saving gadgets and bulbs help not only to save money but most importantly to protect the environment. This goes a long way to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other environmental pollutants that affect the ozone. Energy labeling is not the only way to go green but also helps consumers to choose the most energy-efficient products. In other words, it is also a financial saving solution for families.
8. Use of Refrigerator and Air Conditioners that is Chlorofluorocarbons Free
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which are a major ozone-depleting substance are found to be among one the compounds used in refrigeration and air conditioning. This compound which is known to be volatile and chemically inert in the troposphere is been broken down by ultraviolet radiation in the stratosphere, thereby releasing chlorine atom, which is able to destroy ozone molecules.
In 1989 it was made an offense by the Ozone protection and synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management act to design and import refrigerators, air conditioners, and some other equipment made to only run on Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
Therefore in line with the phasing out of refrigerators that make use of CFCs households, offices, etc should ensure they make use of newer refrigerators that do not contain CFCs which makes use of another gas called HFC-13a also known as Tetrefluoroethane as this will go a long way in reducing ozone depletion
9. Reduce Meat Consumption
The decomposition of manure produces Nitrous Oxide (N2O); this makes beef, poultry, and livestock farming to be large contributors to ozone depletion. Research shows that 44% of gas emission from livestock farming leads to ozone depletion. Therefore, consuming less meat will help the ozone layer, as it reduces the demand for meat products thereby lowering livestock farming.
10. Legislation and Sensitization of Human Population
Impacts on the ozone layer are generally a result of human activities. Therefore, in order to reduce ozone depletion, it will require us all to work together.
Proper sensitization should be given to people on why we should reduce the use of vehicles, eat less meat, properly dispose of old air conditioners, refrigerators, and fire extinguishers, and also the need to patronize local products as this will go a long way to preserve the ozone.
So, individuals should be sensitized to their role as contributors to ozone depletion. alongside the adequate implementation of already existing protocols and treaties
The reduction or depletion of the ozone layer has been discovered over the years to pose some adverse effects on animals, human health, and the environment. Hence, every individual should take practical steps to prevent the depletion of the ozone layer, as the major ozone-depleting substances are human-induced.
Vehicles emit a large number of greenhouse gases that lead to global warming as well as ozone depletion. Therefore, the use of vehicles should be minimized as much as possible.
Farmers should reduce the use of pesticides and drift towards natural means of getting rid of pests instead of using chemicals. Most of the cleaning products as discussed have chemicals that affect the ozone layer. We should substitute that with eco-friendly products.
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Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst and Content writer. He is the CEO of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious college in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.