Essay on The Pros and Cons of Ozone

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Here is an environmental question worth asking, "Is ozone good or bad?" Need more context? Okay. Has ozone been beneficial or detrimental to humans over the course of the past century? Unsure? Well read the following and decide. If you're not motivated to do so, consider that if ozone weren't part of the Earth, neither would we be, and, more immediately, if ozone levels aren't kept within certain narrow ranges in the future, the biosphere will suffer greatly. What is ozone? Ozone is the gas in our atmosphere which has the chemical formula, O3, meaning that each of its molecules consists of three oxygen atoms. Although seemingly similar to the much more common diatomic oxygen, O2, which we require consumption of in every breath, ozone…show more content…
Let's start in the upper atmosphere and work our way down to the surface. The stratosphere (that part of the atmosphere above the wispy clouds extending nearly 30 miles above the surface) contains ~97 percent of the ozone on the planet. This ozone is considered extremely beneficial and is, in fact, essential for life as we know it. Ozone has the very special property of absorbing the highly energetic ultraviolet (UV) rays that come from the sun. This partial absorption of UV light protects life from the complications that result when life forms are exposed to elevated levels of it. In humans, UV light might be desirous to someone attempting to get a tan, but it is very damaging to our eyes (via cataracts), contributes in the creation of cancerous skin cells, produces age spots, and stimulates wrinkles. (Despite the fact that our culture tends to admire tanned skin, the process of tanning is actually a sign of skin damage.) Many plants also show signs of reduced productivity when exposed to higher UV levels. Thus, stratospheric ozone is a blessing to all of life because of its ability to absorb (and therefore block) much of the UV light from reaching the earth's surface. In the lower atmosphere, particularly near the surface, ozone isn't so beneficial. Often a primary ingredient in smog, ozone causes damage in lung when inhaled. The American Lung Association's website (http:/www.lungusa.org/) contains many
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