Ozone in Nature
In nature, there is a cycle of oxygen just like there is a cycle of water. Oxygen is released from plants on land and plankton in the sea during photosynthesis.
The oxygen is lighter than air and floats upward in the atmosphere. At the 20-30 km region, strong ultraviolet
radiation in the 185-200 nanometer wavelength bombards the oxygen and turns some of it into ozone. The
ozone created exists as a thin layer in the atmosphere and it blocks out the small portion of the UV spectrum that
it absorbs. The great majority of the UV reaches the earth allowing sun tanning, which Dr. Michael Carpendale of
the San Francisco Veteran's Administration Hospital has noted is useful in a very efficacious therapy developed
in the early years of this century. We hear a great deal about the thinning of the ozone layer in the media, but the
facts are otherwise. Ozone production in the upper atmosphere is dependent on the amount of energy coming
from the sun. During peaks of solar activity, ozone is created at a greater rate. During lulls in the sunspot cycle,
the ozone layer is thinner. The lowest level ever measured was in 1962. At night, on the dark side of the planet,
the ozone layer disappears, in a few hours. The layer is reformed as the sun rises in the morning. There is no
ozone over the poles in the winter because there is no sunlight. Ozone is produced constantly in the upper
atmosphere as long as the sun is shining, and since ozone is heavier than air, it begins to fall earthward. As it
falls, it combines with any pollutant it contacts, cleaning the air -- nature's wonderful self-cleaning system. If
ozone contacts water vapor as it falls, it forms hydrogen peroxide, a component of rainwater, and the reason why
rainwater causes plants to grow better than irrigation. Ozone is also created by lightning, and the amount
produced in an average storm is often triple the allowable limit of .015 PPM as set by the US EPA. This ozone is
what gives the air the wonderful fresh smell after a rain, and is of the highest benefit to anyone fortunate enough
to be breathing it. Ozone is also created by waterfalls and crashing surf, which accounts for the energetic feeling
and calm experienced near these sites. Another way ozone is produced is by photons from the sun breaking
apart nitrous oxide, a pollutant formed by the combustion of hydrocarbons in the internal combustion engine. This
ozone can accumulate in smog due to temperature inversions and is a lung and eye irritant.
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