The Chemistry in the Ozone Layer and Scientific Assessment of the Earth's Stratosphere

The ozone layer is a stratum in the earth’s stratosphere at an altitude of about 10 kilometers with a high concentration of ozone gas (World Meteorological Organization, 2010). This layer absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation reaching the earth from the sun. Chlorofluorocarbons are organic compounds that contain carbon and Group VII elements of the periodic table such as chlorine and fluorine; produced as volatile derivatives of methane and ethane. The ozone layer is caused by photochemical mechanisms. These mechanisms are a creation of the ultraviolet light striking oxygen molecules containing two oxygen atoms, splitting them into the constituent atoms.

Consequently, the atomic oxygen combines with the unbroken oxygen molecule (02) to form ozone, 03. The ozone molecule is unstable in nature, and when hit by ultraviolet radiation, it splits into a molecule of oxygen and an atom of atomic oxygen. The process is continuous. This process is known as the ozone-oxygen cycle chemically described as:

  • O2 + hvuv – 20
  • O+ O2

When derived from methane and ethane, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have the formulae CCl» F4-m and C2C1mF6-m, where m is non-zero.

Chlorofluorocarbons are chemical elements used in various commercial apparatus such as coolants in refrigerators, air conditioners, freezers, industrial solvents, dry-cleaning agents, and foam products among others. According to Mario and Sherwood (2014), scientific evidence suggests that these elements significantly contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. Therefore, chlorofluorocarbons are also known as ozone depleting substances. Chlorine, for example, is able to destroy so much of the ozone because it is a catalyst.

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Chlorine initiates the breakdown of ozone and combines with free oxygen to create two oxygen molecules. After each reaction, chlorine begins the destructive cycle again with another ozone molecule. This reaction is illustrated by the equations:

  • Cl+O3 – C10+O2
  • Clo+0. – Cl+O2

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The Chemistry in the Ozone Layer and Scientific Assessment of the Earth's Stratosphere. (2022, Jul 01). Retrieved from

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