The Ozone Layer

Ozone in the atmosphere protects the earth from the sun's powerful ultraviolet radiation. This blanket of protection is called the ozone layer. Over the last twenty-five years something has been breaking down the protective ozone layer. Scientists discovered that chemical compounds called CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), that are in aerosol sprays and refrigerants, were actually destroying the ozone faster than it could be replaced. In 1978, the United States banned the use of products that released CFCs into the atmosphere. According to the EPA, collecting the refrigerant out of old refrigerators alone, before throwing them out, would prevent about 4 million pounds of CFCs from being sent into the atmosphere each year.

What Can Be Done

What Can Be Done Help Save the Ozone Layer

Everyone can pitch in to help stop ozone destruction in our atmosphere. Here are some simple tips. For more tips visit the EPA Web site at: www.epa.gov/ozone.

  • Ask your parents to make sure your air conditioners are in good condition and aren't leaking coolant. When they buy a new air conditioner, ask them to buy one that uses non-ozone-depleting refrigerant. Tell them no R-22 refrigerant!

  • Ask your parents to make sure when their car air conditioner gets serviced that the refrigerants are recovered and recycled, and not released into the air.

  • Ask your parents to make sure that before they throw away old refrigerators, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers, they have the refrigerants recovered and recycled and not released into the air. (They can ask the local trash collector if the refrigerant will be recovered and recycled before the appliance is thrown away.)

There's a Hole in Our Ozone!

When an actual “ozone hole” was discovered over the Antarctic in the early 1980s, scientists knew stronger steps would have to be taken worldwide to protect the ozone layer. In 1987 an international agreement called the Montreal Protocol was made between 180 nations on Earth to stop making and using the ozone-depleting gases. If these countries keep their promise, the ozone layer will recover over time. Some scientists estimate that it will take about fifty years.

Bad Ozone

Not all ozone is good. When ozone forms on the ground, it is harmful to people, crops, and trees. Ozone forms on the ground when exhaust from cars, factories, and chemicals mix with strong sunlight and hot temperatures. This bad combination creates harmful smog. Smog can cause serious breathing problems. Some cities have ozone alerts where they suggest that people stay indoors and not exercise when smog levels are high.

Water Warning

If rain falls on an environment that has been contaminated (made dirty with chemicals) it won't be safe to drink. You can help prevent this! Figure out which two extra words appear over and over in the puzzle grid. Cross out all the extra words and read the remaining message!

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