What Is Causing the Damage to the Ozone Layer?


Quick Answer

Ozone-depleting substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons, cause damage to the ozone layer. These chemicals break down in sunlight, releasing chlorine and bromine atoms into the atmosphere. The atoms break the bonds between oxygen molecules in the ozone, depleting the ozone layer and decreasing its protective capacity.

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Full Answer

Chlorofluorocarbons and other gases that have the potential to damage the ozone layer are highly regulated. During the 1970s and 1980s, the depletion of the ozone layer was linked to these gases, and countries around the world signed treaties to limit or eliminate their use. However, chlorine and bromine atoms can survive in the atmosphere for decades before breaking down, which has resulted in a continuing depletion of the ozone layer long after the regulations went into place.

The depletion of the ozone layer has led to a thinning and a reduction in its ability to block ultraviolet radiation. There are also gaps in the ozone layer, specifically over the Antarctic region. The hole in the ozone layer fluctuates throughout the year, sometimes expanding over parts of South America. Those in the regions affected by hole in the ozone face increased risks of cancer. The ozone hole can also be harmful to crops and livestock.

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