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What are the effects of pollution on the ozone layer?

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Quick Answer

One of the greatest and most dangerous effects of pollution on the ozone layer is that it creates holes in the atmosphere, which allow powerful ultraviolet rays from the sun to reach the Earth’s surface. Many varieties of atmospheric pollutants — toxic chemicals, synthetic substances, such as DDT, and manmade chemicals — enter the atmosphere. They may remain intact and linger for decades, even up to a century, which gives them time to create considerable damage to the atmosphere.

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Full Answer

As the ozone layer develops holes, the sun’s strong ultraviolet A and B rays shine through with no filtration. This deterioration happens incrementally and adds up over time to create major holes in the atmosphere. The excessive amounts of ultraviolet penetration pose health and safety risks for all organisms, including humans. Without a protective layer of cloud cover, organisms are vulnerable to the sun’s rays, which can cause skin cancer and contribute to the development of cataracts. These rays also reduce the ability of organisms such as plants and phytoplankton to reproduce. Ultraviolet B rays may also disrupt the reproductive cycles of fish, shrimp and other shellfish. Pollution also prevents the ozone layer from blocking excessive heat emitted by the sun, which in turn warms surrounding environments, contributing to glacier melt and ice thaws.

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