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Ozone

For such a simple molecule, ozone can sure seem complicated.  Unlike normal molecular oxygen, which consists of two oxygen atoms each sharing two electrons, ozone is comprised of three oxygen atoms.  It is formed when an free atom of oxygen becomes weakly bonded to a molecule of atom.  This free atom of oxygen can be formed from molecular oxygen by passing enough energy through the air, such as when lightning or electrical sparks are created.   Because the oxygen atom is weakly bonded to the oxygen molecule, ozone can breakdown quite easily when it comes in contact with other molecules.  When it does, it acts as a very strong oxidizer. 

This is good for bleaching substances, destroying bacteria and viruses, or just getting rid of bad smells.  However, if this occurs in the human body, it causes a burning sensation.  For this reason, we try to limit the production of ozone near the ground.This is good for bleaching substances, destroying bacteria and viruses, or just getting rid of bad smells.  However, if this occurs in the human body, it causes a burning sensation.  For this reason, we try to limit the production of ozone near the ground. However, ozone is very valuable to our life here on Earth.  Ozone molecules are very good at absorbing ultraviolet light, an ionizing form of light that can cause cancers in human.  In the upper atmosphere, ozone protects us by absorbing UV radiation from the Sun.

This module takes a look at the issues of ground level and stratopheric ozone.  We will study what factors affect its formation near the surface, and look at ways to limit its production. We will also study the relationship between the concentration of ozone in the stratophere and the amount of UV radiation that reaches the surface.  Finally, we will calculate how much ground-level ozone each of us emits.
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