How do CFCs Destroy the Ozone Layer?

By Harshal Vispute|Updated : August 17th, 2022

In the atmosphere, ozone has always had natural adversaries. One of them is nitrogen (NO), but throughout the past century, chlorine (Cl) has been added to the list as well. In reality, human-related activities have increased their concentration, upsetting the delicate balance of the stratosphere.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) come into touch with the Ozone layer as they rise upward and toward the stratosphere. As a result, the CFC molecules are split apart by ultraviolet light, releasing chlorine atoms that can destroy ozone molecules in a chemical process. Human skin cancer risk is enhanced by the ozone layer's loss, and plant health suffers, which is particularly true for agricultural crops.

How does CFCs Destroy the Ozone Layer?

  • The main causes of the ozone layer's depletion have been found to be chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), however, bromine-containing substances, other halogen compounds, and nitrogen oxides can also harm the ozone layer.
  • Thomas Midgeley first identified CFCs as a low-cost, non-flammable coolant for refrigerators in the 1930s. They have been utilised in propellants, fast food packaging, air conditioners, and freezers. Due to their high stability and slow rate of deterioration, CFCs can last up to a century in the atmosphere.
  • The sun's ultraviolet rays break down CFCs in the stratosphere where they slowly build up and release chlorine atoms. One chlorine atom can aid in the destruction of 100,000 ozone molecules as chlorine assaults the ozone.
  • Leading industrial nations ratified the Montreal Protocol prohibiting CFCs in 1987, but despite efforts to curtail their use over the ensuing ten years, the ozone layer continued to deteriorate.
  • But CFCs do more than only harm ozone; they also act as powerful greenhouse gases. The restriction was associated with a "halt" or slowing in temperature increases since the mid-1990s, according to 2013 research that was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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FAQs

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) come into touch with the Ozone layer as they rise upward and toward the stratosphere. This causes a chemical reaction in which ultraviolet radiation breaks apart the CFC molecules, producing chlorine atoms that can destroy ozone molecules.

  • CFCs drift into the upper atmosphere, where the chlorine they contain ozone destructs. The ozone hole over Antarctica is believed to be largely due to CFCs. hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), or CFCs. Despite being ozone-depleting compounds, they are less effective than chlorofluorocarbons at destroying stratospheric ozone.

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