What is Ozone Gas?

            You may have often heard about the ozone layer depletion but do you know what ozone is? Ozone is a allotrope of oxygen gas in which each molecule contains three atoms of oxygen with its chemical formula O3. The three atoms are arranged in a triangular shape. Although the molecule of ozone contain only oxygen atoms, their number and arrangement differ form those of oxygen gas.

Ozone layer protects life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays

            Ozone is light blue in color and as a pungent smell. The characteristic smell can be experienced near running electric motors. It is poisonous gas, differing considerably from oxygen in its chemical properties. It is found in the atmosphere in very small quantities, the highest concentration being at high attitudes where it is formed by the reaction of ultraviolet rays on oxygen.

            Ozone can be obtained artificially by passing ordinary oxygen through a tube where it is subjected to a silent electrical discharge. The electrodes are covered with insulating materials glass or mica so that the discharge currents are kept low, and high voltage pulses are supplied between the electrodes. This method is used so that oxygen acquires the energy it needs to form ozone but it ensure that at the same time ozone does not become hot enough to enable the molecule to break up into ordinary oxygen.

            Ozone is a very powerful oxidizing agent. It is used to sterilize water, to purify air, to decolorize foods, and act bleach. Its ozonide-forming property is used in several industrial processes in the manufacture of drugs and in plasticizing materials.

            An ozone layer in the atmosphere absorbs much of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and consequently saves the animal and plant life of earth. This is due to the fact that the ultraviolet rays spoil the vegetation and cause diseases like cataract and skin cancer.

            Depletion of ozone layer in the atmosphere may also lead to variations in global rainfall, ecological disturbances and dwindling of global food supplies. The discovery of holes in the ozone layer has created a great concern among the scientists.

            Depletion of ozone is cased by CFCs (chloro fluoro carbons), which are liberated from refrigerators, fire extinguishers and aerosol sprayers. A global measure to eliminate the use of CFCs is currently afoot by banning these propellant gases for other harmless ones.