Fluorocarbons and the ozone
Name: Arlene Langley
Why do fluorocarbons destroy the ozone?
Okay, here is the scoop: Normally, ozone (O3) goes through a natural cycle in
the atmosphere which goes something like this --
oxygen (O2) ==> hit by UV light ==> O. + O. (O. + O2) ==> O3
O3 == > hit by UV light ==> O. + O2
O. + O. ==> O2 (small amounts..)
When halofluorocarbons are introduced into the atmosphere, they do much the
Cl-(FC) ==> hit by UV light ==> Cl + (FC).
Then Cl. + O3 ==> ClO- + O2
ClO- + O3 ==> Cl. + 2 O2
In other words, the atmosphere has a certain amount of O3 ozone because of its
exposure to UV radiation from the sun. O3 is a fairly unstable compound, and
does not take a lot of a kick to break apart, but still does not have enough
energy to break itself apart. It usually takes UV energy to break it, but
when a halofluorocarbon is split by UV radiation, the chlorine radical
released can give the ozone the energy it needs to break up. But notice:
Where does the chlorine radical go after this? It goes back and does it all
over again -- on the average of around 100,000 times. Scary, huh?
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Update: June 2012