Ozone Depletion


In this world of rapid change, it\'s extremely difficult for a company to
stay ahead of the game even using all the resources available to them. So, it\'s
difficult to imagine the problems they would run into when a group of
environmentalists decide to boycott a substance which is the foundation of their
company. These chemicals, although very useful, cause consequences that need to
be dealt with now in order to prevent further damage.
The chemicals in question are numerous, but the two gaining the most
attention are chloroflurocarbons (CFC\'s) and carbon tetrachloride. CFC\'s have a
wide range of uses, but are popularly used in aerosol propellants and air
conditioning for homes and cars (Singer and Crandall npg). Carbon tetrachloride
is one of the major components in making CFC so their damage is similar. When
they inter the outer atmosphere, They react with ozone chemicals to release
chlorine and bromine that in turn deteriorate the ozone and form "thinning" or
"holes." This is catastrophic because they are bonded very strongly together
and cannot be broken down by water. This means they travel into the atmosphere
virtually unharmed by rain or decomposition (Goldfarb 282).
The reason these are causing such a commotion is the damage they cause
to living things on Earth. When the ozone depletes, it causes more ultraviolet
(UV) rays to hit the Earth\'s surface than are healthy (Singer and Crandall npg).
UV rays affect the DNA of every living cell, altering the protein make-up of
that cell (Goldfarb 288). Most importantly it affects "microscopic
photoplankton" which rest at the bottom of the food chain, placing us in extreme
danger (Goldfarb 288). Henry Lee, leading researcher on ozone depletion for the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), says that UV rays will only have a slight
effect on oceans, though. He says the problem lies on the fact that 70 percent
of the Earth\'s surface is covered with water, making it a widespread problem.
In addition to that, humans exposed to excess UV rays over a period of time are
likely to develop some form of cancer (Singer and Crandall npg). The EPA
released a report that stated if CFC\'s weren\'t controlled, in the future there
will be approximately "40 million additional cases of non-melanoma skin cancer
found and 800,000 additional skin cancer deaths" (Singer and Crandall npg).
Now that scientists know what these and other "culprits" do, they\'re
trying to find solutions to this world-wide problem. When they found these
chemicals to be harmful, environmentalists didn\'t hesitate in taking action.
They placed a boycott on the use of aerosol spray cans. The U.S. and Canada
responded by banning "CFC powered spray cans," and that, along with Europe
agreeing to cut back by 35 percent, caused the rate of damage to fall
drastically (Singer and Crandall npg). Therefore, manufacturers have to stop
using these. The only other alternative is to find replacements for these
deadly compounds. This is easier and more practical than stopping production
altogether. It costs millions of dollars to re-tool manufacturers\' machines,
while losing money in the process. DuPont is the largest producer of CFC\'s and
stands to lose the most if and when a ban is placed on CFC\'s. Because of this
position, they\'re stepping up research on chemicals that get the job done, but
cause less damage (Singer and Crandall npg). Hydroflurocarbons (HFC\'s) are
"made with hydrogen instead of chlorine," which doesn\'t contribute to the ozone
problem, but is a factor to the greenhouse effect (Goldfarb 290).
Hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFC\'s), like HFC\'s, have hydrogen in place of the
deadly chlorine, but still contribute to ozone depletion. The only difference
being HCFC\'s deplete at a much slower rate (Goldfarb 290). The major
breakthrough is the discovery of CFC-134a, It\'s also chlorine-free but
deteriorates before it reaches the outer atmosphere, so no damage is done. It
will take the place of CFC-11 and CFC-12 in some refrigeration and coolant
products (Singer and Crandall npg).
Many people are surprised to see the government moving so quickly in
regards to this major problem. One writer said it was hard enough to get
lawmakers to agree on anything, but in this situation, they\'re "moving with
unusual speed and resolve" ("Ozone Defense" 63). Which doesn\'t excuse the fact
that when they knew CFC\'s and tetrachloride were harmful they should have put an
immediate freeze on production of them. One scientist commented by saying,
"...absolute proof is not needed when we are conducting an experiment on our own
planet" (Goldfarb 291). Regardless of what happened in the past, we should be
thankful they moved as quickly as they did. In doing so, They bought us some
much needed