Why do CFCs damage the ozone layer?


Why do CFCs damage the ozone layer?

Importance of the Ozone Layer:

In the upper atmosphere, or stratosphere, there is a concentration of ozone gas, or three oxygen molecules bound together with double bonds. This gas helps to absorb incoming ultraviolet radiation, preventing it from reaching Earth where it can damage living things.

Answer and Explanation: 1

CFCs damage the ozone layer because once they are in the stratosphere, ultraviolet radiation releases a chlorine atom and this chlorine atom can attack and break apart ozone. CFCs persist and enter the upper atmosphere after being released on Earth. In this part of the atmosphere they are exposed to high energy radiation which breaks them apart, releasing a chlorine atom. Chlorine wants to get electrons to complete its outer shell, so it attacks ozone, stripping off one oxygen molecule for form oxygen gas and chlorine monoxide. The effect is amplified however when free oxygen molecules react with chlorine monoxide, forming more oxygen gas and more free chlorine atoms. Those chlorine atoms can go on to attack and destroy even more ozone. This process can continue for many years, leading to the destruction of large concentrations of ozone.

Learn more about this topic:

The Ozone Layer: Importance and the Harmful Effects of Thinning


Chapter 7 / Lesson 7

Understand the role of the ozone layer and its importance for life on earth. Learn about how ozone is formed and the major cause of ozone layer depletion.

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