How do CFCs Destroy the Ozone Layer?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) destroy the Ozone Layer by interacting with it when they migrate upward toward the stratosphere. As a result, ultraviolet light splits the CFC molecules apart, releasing chlorine atoms that can destroy ozone molecules in a chemical process. The loss of the ozone layer increases the risk of human skin cancer, and plant health suffers, particularly for agricultural crops.

Ozone Layer Destruction

Ozone has always had natural enemies in the atmosphere. One of them is nitrogen (NO), but chlorine (Cl) has been added to the list over the last century. In reality, human-related activities have increased their concentration, upsetting the stratosphere’s delicate balance.

Chlorofluorocarbons have been identified as the primary causes of ozone layer depletion (CFCs). Bromine-containing substances, other halogen compounds, and nitrogen oxides, on the other hand, can all harm the ozone layer.

  • In the 1930s, Thomas Midgeley discovered CFCs as a low-cost, non-flammable coolant for refrigerators.
  • They’ve been used in propellants, fast food packaging, air conditioners, and freezers, among other things.
  • CFCs can survive in the atmosphere for up to a century due to their high stability and slow rate of deterioration.

Destruction of the Ozone Layer by Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

The sun’s ultraviolet rays degrade CFCs in the stratosphere, where they gradually accumulate and emit chlorine atoms. As chlorine attacks the ozone, one chlorine atom can aid in the destruction of 100,000 ozone molecules.

The Montreal Protocol prohibiting CFCs was ratified by the world’s leading industrial nations in 1987, but despite efforts to reduce their use over the next ten years, the ozone layer continued to deteriorate. CFCs, however, do more than just harm the ozone layer; they are also potent greenhouse gases.

According to a 2013 study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the restriction was associated with a “halt” or slowing of temperature increases since the mid-1990s.

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