Most of us are aware of the ozone layer problem. Ozone is a gas containing 3 atoms of oxygen. It is a harmful gas if inhaled in large quantities. Naturally it is present in the lower part of the second layer of our atmosphere. So there is a layer of ozone about 19 km from our heads. The gives us light and heat. Along with it ultraviolet rays also reach the earth. These rays are harmful to most life forms. In humans, they can cause skin cancer and DNA damage.
But the ozone layer acts as a shield and protects us from U.V. rays. Since the usage of air conditioners, and refrigerators began, this protective layer has grown weak. The substances called chlorofluoro carbons used in ACs and refrigerators destroy the ozone and hence the layer is damaged. A large hole in the layer has already been created.
Recognizing the danger, 191 countries signed up to ban the usage of CFCs. This was the Montreal Protocol. In place of CFCs, hydrofluoro carbons have been employed these belong to the same class as CFCs, but do not attack the ozone layer. These HFCs have been marketed as eco-friendly and their usage is steadily on the rise. However, recent research shows that this replacement has only modified the problem, but did not improve the situation.
The HFCs are themselves green house gases. That means, they prevent the escape of heat from the earth. This causes a rise in the temperature all over the earth and is termed Global Warming. The increased emissions of carbon dioxide gas from fossil fuel consumption are already producing this disastrous et on the planet and now the problem is further compounded by the HFCs.
Scientists are on a war footing to find alternatives to the HFCs. The only catch is that, the answer should be appealing both scientifically and socio-economically.