How to reverse the causes of ozone layer destruction

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Courtesy of Verisae

Since the causes of ozone layer depletion were identified, solutions were put into place to reduce or eliminate their usage. The U.S. Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocols address the problem internationally. The goal of these treaties is to stop the damage to the ozone layer by phasing out known contributors.

Although there are numerous causes of ozone layer depletion, chloroflurocarbons have been identified as being the most damaging. These gases are used in many different industries in various ways. The most common types of ozone depleting substances are refrigerant gases found in everyday HVAC-R systems. Chloroflurocarbons are also used in firefighting equipment, aerosols, the production of installed foam and anesthetics.

After much scientific study, complete many years ago, researchers concluded that CFCs were a major source of destruction to the lower atmosphere. Once they reach the stratosphere, the sun's ultraviolet rays break down the compound, thus releasing chlorine. This resulting chlorine is what damages the ozone in a repetitive process. Unfortunately, the length of time chemicals cause destruction of the ozone depends upon the refrigerant being broken down, i.e. chlorine last for 2 years and other chemicals for much longer.

The main causes of ozone layer depletion are the gases fluorine, chlorine and bromine, which are found in manmade halocarbons. Ozone destruction and the depletion of important chemical compounds from the atmosphere were tied closely to chlorine and bromine where are both derivatives of refrigerant gases. Chlorine atoms result from chloroflurocarbons molecule, while bromine atoms result from halons. While chloroflurocarbons and halons are safe to use and cause no harm to the environment, they cause substantial damage to the stratosphere.

Free radicals, including hydroxyl, nitric oxide, atomic chlorine and bromine, are causes of ozone layer depletion. Currently, hydroxyl and nitric oxide occur in the stratosphere naturally. But chlorine and bromine are a result of human activity and their levels in the atmosphere are ever increasing.

The ozone layer protects the Earth from the full power of the sun's ultraviolet rays. When it is depleted, the Earth simply receives more exposure to harmful radiation. Skin cancer will increase, the immune system in humans and animals will be weakened, plants will be damaged and plankton in oceans will be reduced. The entire balance of the earth's life system will be impacted.

The creation of government mandates and international regulations has successfully lowered the amount of harmful chemicals such as CFC refrigerants from reaching the atmosphere. These laws still in place and regulated by the EPA have decreased and will continue to restrict harmful refrigerant usage. They include the U.S. Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocols. Their sole purpose is to reduce or phase-out substances that damage the ozone layer. Even with these efforts, it would take another century before these damaging substances totally disappear from the stratosphere. If the emissions of harmful refrigerant gases stops, the ozone layer has the ability to heal itself after a number of years. The length it takes to recuperate depends upon the type of refrigerant.

Damage to the stratospheric ozone was first identified in 1974. If the causes of ozone layer depletion are not addressed, the end result would be global warming. As the temperature of the earth rises, weather events, like more droughts and stronger hurricanes, would occur and ice caps and glaciers would melt. As the ozone layer continues to wear down, the earth would be in direct contact with the sun's heat and its damaging ultraviolet rays.

Additional Resources:

Refrigerant tracking products from Verisae help to organizations manage substances that destroy the ozone layer as mandated by The Montreal Protocol regulations. Verisae makes it easier to report refrigerant usage and track ozone depleting substances (ODS) across all HVAC-R systems. Explore further Verisae's refrigerant management tools at

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