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Air Quality: Ozone

by: Carina Sauter

Air Quality: Ozone Ecology 1000

Carina Sauter
GPA 3.79

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These notes begin the next chapter on air quality and how humans have a direct affect on it. We discussed the production of CFC's and the history of ozone, and the many advances we have made as re...
Introduction to Environmental Issues
Class Notes
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Thursday September 15, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Ecology 1000 at University of Georgia taught by Connelly in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 8 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Environmental Issues in Ecology at University of Georgia.


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Date Created: 09/15/16
Air Quality: Ozone • Ozone: (trioxygen) o Molecule consisting of three atoms of oxygen § Ozone in lower atmosphere is a pollutant (troposphere) – what we breathe • Causes respiratory problems § Ozone in the upper atmosphere is beneficial (stratosphere) – buffer for atmosphere • Blocks radiation o Ozone layer § Highest levels of ozone are in the stratosphere (still rare) § Ozone filters out sun’s UV light rays, which are harmful (but also used for production of vitamin D) § Ozone is produced naturally from UV rays reacting with O2 § O2 is broken down to single particles with sunlight à makes ozone à back to O2 • O2 à O3 à O2 • CFC Production o Invention of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) in the 20’s o Safer alternative to the sulfur dioxide and ammonia refrigerants used at that time o Chlorofluorocarbons were chosen for safety and for their advantageous chemical properties (low in toxicity, nonflammable, noncorrosive, and nonreactive with other chemical species, and have desirable thermal-conductivity and boiling- point characteristics) o Principal uses of CFC’s: § Coolants in refrigeration systems § Coolants in air conditioners § Solvents to clean electronic components § Blowing agents in the production of plastic foam (Styrofoam) § Propellants in air conditioners § Aerosol cans (hairspray) o Of the 682,000,000 kg of chlorofluorocarbons consumed globally during 1991, DuPont Co. estimated the use for various applications: § 32% for refrigerants § 28% for blowing agents § 20% for cleaning agents § 18% for propellants o BUT what happens when the compound in the systems when you throw them away? § Leaking air conditioner/old fridge à CFC’s leave and escape into atmosphere § First world problem – industrialized nations (Europe, USSR, USA) § While making/using CFC’s, concentration in atmosphere grows • Not a big deal in health at the time § CFC’s are extremely light chemicals that float into stratosphere and do not break down easily • à destroys ozone over time § chlorine atom breaks off of CFC • reacts with O3 (ozone molecules) and binds with free oxygen • UV breaks binds of chlorine and breaks down ozone for decades • This is what we didn’t realize was happening • What’s the problem with CFC’s then? o Too much UV light gets through o Thin layer of ozone – depleted o There is actually a hole in the ozone layer! § North pole = 0 § -6% § -4% (Canada) § -3% (us!) o Potential effects of UV light § Eyes • Cataracts can develop causing lens to cloud up – blurred vision and eventually blindness § Skin • Exposure can lead to accelerated aging, wrinkling, and various forms of skin cancer § Immune system • A reduced immune response may make the body more susceptible to infectious diseases § Crops • Interference with photosynthesis could result in lower crop yields § Marine Life • Radiation affects the growth of phytoplankton – the mainstay of the ocean food chain o Ozone absorbs UV light § CFC’s destroy ozone, permitting increased UV radiation § Increased UV radiation is hazardous to your health § Through their influences on UV, CFC’s are (secondarily) hazardous to your health • Secondary because CFC doesn’t affect you directly; it changes something else (UV light) and this change affects you o Frank Sherwood Rowland video § Looked at CFC’s § Influential in understanding their impact on the environment § What is the face of the CFC’s? he asked: • How long do they last? • What do they do? § Rowland did not originally expect to have any major findings with no agenda § Nobel Prize winner § Many companies fought his findings • Millions of dollars were on the line • Attacked professionally, economically, and politically § Lead to the 1987 Montreal Protocol: • “international treaty created to reduce the damage being caused to the stratospheric ozone layer by air pollutants such as refrigerant gases” o production and use of substances that have been identified to deplete the ozone layer were to be phased out by 2000 o All United Nations member states have approved Montreal Protocol • Should recover by 2050 • President of UN (Kofi Annan) said “Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol” • And Since 1987, industrialized countries have dramatically reduced ozone emissions (besides some illegal activity) • Ozone in the Troposphere = bad o Smog § Power plants and tail pipe emissions § Many cities (Atlanta, Beijing, NYC, etc.) § Smog dies down at night when no one is working/driving • Measurable and clear evidence o Ozone in the lower atmosphere is hazardous to your health o NOx is produced by automobile exhaust o Hydrocarbons are produced y: § Automobile exhaust § Trees (e.g. turpentine) o Hydrocarbons and nitrous oxide are heavy and sink to ground level à people o Increases risk of: § Asthma § Bronchitis § Heart attack § Increased risk of dying from lung disease of over 30% in cities with high ozone levels • Timeline of Ozone o 1970: CFC’s detected in the air o 1974: Rowland warns of harmful effects o 1978: US bans CFC production; DuPont begins research on alternatives o 1980: Reagan discredits facts o 1981: DuPont stops research on alternatives o 1982: DuPont states CFC production will not increase, but global production actually doubles to 1.1 metric tons/year; DuPont discredits facts o 1985: Rowland’s numbers are verified; hole in the ozone proven o 1986: DuPont seeks alternatives o 1987: Montreal Protocol signed; CFC produced reduced by 50% by 1998 o 1990: Montreal Protocol updated; total elimination by the year of 2000 o 1992: DuPont researches alternatives o 1993: DuPont announced chlorine-free coolant (chlorine was the true culprit) o 1997: Rowland wins Novel Prize o 2000: all CFC production should be stopped o 2016: present o 2050: ozone layer and atmosphere should be back to normal • What can we do? o Get an annual pollution-control check-up on cars o Buy fuel-efficient cars o Use creams in tubes rather than propellant foams in cans o Use paper cups, not Styrofoam o Use washable, not dry-clean-only clothing


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