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Ozone – An Overview

In the troposphere, the ground-level or “bad” ozone is an air pollutant that damages human health, vegetation, and many common materials. It is a key ingredient of urban smog. In the stratosphere, we find the “good” ozone that protects life on earth from the harmful effects of the Sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Courtesy of COMET program

 

The Ozone Hole. Pollution. Skin Cancer. Why does the topic of ozone make the news so much? How important is the ozone in our atmosphere? Why are scientists so concerned about its increase near the surface of the Earth and its disappearance higher up in the atmosphere?

First things first – what is ozone? Ozone is made of three oxygen atoms (O3). The oxygen in our atmosphere that we breathe is made up of two oxygen atoms (O2). When enough ozone molecules are present, it forms a pale blue gas. Ozone has the same chemical structure whether it is found in the stratosphere or the troposphere. Where we find ozone in the atmosphere determines whether we consider it to be “good” or “bad”!

In the troposphere, the ground-level or “bad” ozone is an air pollutant that damages human health, vegetation, and many common materials. It is a key ingredient of urban smog. In the stratosphere, we find the “good” ozone that protects life on Earth from the harmful effects of the Sun’s ultraviolet rays. We have good reason to be concerned about the thinning of the ozone layer in the stratosphere. We also have good reason to be concerned about the buildup of ozone in the troposphere. Although simplistic, the saying “Good up high and bad near by,” sums up ozone in the atmosphere.

source: windows to the universe

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