Today's Crunch issue:
Ozone depletion and it's effect on human beings:
Ozone layer is a layer in Earth's atmosphere which contains relatively high concentrations of ozone (O3).Ozone layer was discovered in 1913 by the French physicists Charles Fabry and Henri Buisson.Ozone layer absorbs 97–99% of the Sun's high frequency ultraviolet light, which is potentially damaging to the life forms on Earth.It is mainly located in the lower portion of the stratosphere from approximately 20 to 30 kilometres (12 to 19 mi) above Earth.
Ozone layer works as a protective layer around the earth.It absorb all the dangerous UV rays coming from the sun and which is dangerous to all form of life on earth.But due to human activities such as industrialization,
increase in the use of fossil fuels and deforestation e.t.c.There has been a rapid increase in the amount of gases such as nitric oxide (NO), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydroxyl (OH), atomic chlorine (Cl), and atomic bromine (Br) which are harmful for the ozone layer.While there are natural sources for all of these species, the concentrations of chlorine and bromine have increased markedly in recent years due to the release of large quantities of man-made organohalogen compounds, especially chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and bromofluorocarbons.Due to which ozone depletion occurs.And ozone depletion effects can be seen all around us.Ozone depletion occur due to these free radical catalysts as written above.The primary cause of ozone depletion is the presence of chlorine-containing source gases (primarily CFCs and related halocarbons). In the presence of UV light, these gases dissociate, releasing chlorine atoms, which then go on to catalyze ozone destruction. The Cl-catalyzed ozone depletion can take place in the gas phase, but it is dramatically enhanced in the presence of polar stratospheric clouds.
Ozone depletion effects are very harmful for human beings.The breakdown of ozone in the stratosphere results in the ozone molecules being unable to absorb ultraviolet radiation. Consequently, unabsorbed and dangerous ultraviolet-B radiation is able to reach the Earth’s surface. Ozone levels over the northern hemisphere have been dropping by 4% per decade. Over approximately 5% of the Earth's surface, around the north and south poles, much larger seasonal declines have been seen, and are described as ozone holes.
The main public concern regarding the ozone depletion has been the effects of increased surface UV radiation on human health.One of the biggest effect of ozone depletion on human being is that number of skin cancer cases has been increased very rapidly.UVB (the higher energy UV radiation absorbed by ozone) is generally accepted to be a contributory factor to skin cancer and to produce Vitamin D. In addition, increased surface UV leads to increased tropospheric ozone, which is a health risk to humans.Some of ozone depletion effects are:
- 1. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas:The most common forms of skin cancer in humans, basal and squamous cell carcinomas, have been strongly linked to UVB exposure. The mechanism by which UVB induces these cancers is well understood absorption of UVB radiation causes the pyrimidine bases in the DNA molecule to form dimers, resulting in transcription errors when the DNA replicates. These cancers are relatively mild and rarely fatal, although the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma sometimes requires extensive reconstructive surgery. By combining epidemiological data with results of animal studies, scientists have estimated that a one percent decrease in stratospheric ozone would increase the incidence of these cancers by 2%.
- 2. Malignant melanoma Another form of skin cancer: malignant melanoma, is much less common but far more dangerous, being lethal in about 15–20% of the cases diagnosed. The relationship between malignant melanoma and ultraviolet exposure is not yet well understood, but it appears that both UVB and UVA are involved. Experiments on fish suggest that 90 to 95% of malignant melanomas may be due to UVA and visible radiation.whereas experiments on opossums suggest a larger role for UVB.Because of this uncertainty, it is difficult to estimate the impact of ozone depletion on melanoma incidence. One study showed that a 10% increase in UVB radiation was associated with a 19% increase in melanomas for men and 16% for women.A study of people in Punta Arenas, at the southern tip of Chile, showed a 56% increase in melanoma and a 46% increase in nonmelanoma skin cancer over a period of seven years, along with decreased ozone and increased UVB levels.
- 3. Cortical cataracts:Studies are suggestive of an association between ocular cortical cataracts and UV-B exposure, using crude approximations of exposure and various cataract assessment techniques. A detailed assessment of ocular exposure to UV-B was carried out in a study on Chesapeake Bay Watermen, where increases in average annual ocular exposure were associated with increasing risk of cortical opacity. In this highly exposed group of predominantly white males, the evidence linking cortical opacities to sunlight exposure was the strongest to date. However, subsequent data from a population-based study in Beaver Dam, WI suggested the risk may be confined to men. In the Beaver Dam study, the exposures among women were lower than exposures among men, and no association was seen.Moreover, there were no data linking sunlight exposure to risk of cataract in African Americans, although other eye diseases have different prevalences among the different racial groups, and cortical opacity appears to be higher in African Americans compared with whites.
- 4. Increased tropospheric ozone:Increased surface UV leads to increased tropospheric ozone. Ground-level ozone is generally recognized to be a health risk, as ozone is toxic due to its strong oxidant properties. At this time, ozone at ground level is produced mainly by the action of UV radiation on combustion gases from vehicle exhausts.
- 5. Increased production of Vitamin D