The discovery of ozone (a colorless gas found in the upper atmosphere of the earth) as a gas in the air near ground level and later in the atmosphere, although was known during the beginning of 19th century, the world has awakened of its rapid depletion and thereby the causes, consequences and corrective measures only over the last a few decades. It may be noted that without the ozone layer, life would not exist on the surface of the earth.
It was the Bristish Antarctica Survey, made the startling observation that the concentration of ozone over Antarctica were dramatically dropping at an astounding rate each spring, which in turn has galvanized the entire scientific community all over the world in the latter half of 1970s since then, a lot of research has been carried out to find its possible effects and causes.
International action was taken within just two years of the discovery of the patch of thinning ozone in 1985 to put an end to the release of chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. As ozone depletes in the stratosphere, it forms a ‘hole’ in the layer which enables harmful UV rays to enter the Earth’s atmosphere. These UV(damages DNA in plants and animals including humans) rays of the Sun are associated with a number of health hazards like skin cancer, eye damage, damage to immune system, breathing difficulty, chest pain, lung disorder etc on human beings.
In addition, this can enhance the ability of sunlight to synthesize vitamin D, which can be regarded as an important beneficial effect of ozone layer depletion. Recent studies have shown that the lifespan of lower atmospheric ozone is quite less than that of stratospheric ozone. In this context, it may be mentioned here a startling observation that Omanis in sunshine-rich Oman are deficient in the ‘sunshine vitamin’ — vitamin D. Based on a study carried out by a team from, the Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University says that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among Omanis stands at 87.5 per cent.
Every one of us can do a bit to save the ozone by using/buying recycled products, optimal use of energy, availing of public transport, and, most importantly, spreading awareness. Individual efforts most certainly ensure in saving the earth’s blanket/the sun screen.