Weaker and Weaker

Artificial substances are destroying the ozone layer, which provides protection against ultraviolet rays. This phenomenon is observed every year in polar regions (primarily in the Antarctic) between August and October. Because of this, the Earth is receiving more harmful rays, which perhaps explains the appearance of certain illnesses: an increase in skin cancer cases, damage to vision, and weakening of the immune system. •

2000

11,000,000 square miles (28,000,000 sq km)

10,000,000 square miles (26,000,000 sq km)

OZONE LAYER

At an altitude of 12 to 19 miles (20 to 30 km), the Earth is surrounded by a stratospheric ozone layer that is of vital importance for life on the surface. The layer is formed from oxygen molecules through the absorption of ultraviolet light from the Sun. This reaction is reversible, that is, the ozone can return to its natural state, oxygen. This oxygen is reconverted into ozone, beginning a continuous process of formation and destruction of these components.

It is popularly called the ozone hole—a decrease or abnormal thinning that occurs in the ozone layer.

I [Ultraviolet rays strike a molecule of oxygen which breaks up and releases its two atoms.

One of the released atoms combines with a molecule of oxygen. Together they form a molecule of ozone.

One of the released atoms combines with a molecule of oxygen. Together they form a molecule of ozone.

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