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Question:
What gases are harmful to the ozone layer?



Replies:
Some gases that harm the ozone layer are nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's), and other chlorine- containing compounds such as chlorine monoxide (ClO), which can be produced by relatively nonreactive chlorine nitrate. In essence what these gases do is break the ozone O molecule into 03 and 02, then aid in the conversion of two 03 atoms to 02. CFC's themselves are chemically unreactive (one property that made them attractive for use as propellants and refrigerants, but which also allows them to survive in the atmosphere for a long time), but when they get up in the upper atmosphere where they are exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the W causes the CFC molecule to lose an atom of chlorine. This atomic chlorine is very reactive. What is worse, when NO and Cl destroy ozone, they are not used up or changed in the reactions so they are free to destroy more ozone. (Substances that enhance chemical reactions but are not themselves changed are referred to as catalysts for the reactions.)

Ronald Winther



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