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The Ozone Layer and You



The Ozone Layer and You
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.11

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    reapply, radiation, component, reactive, troposphere, ultraviolet, interaction, rates, atom, atmosphere, estimate, knowing, molecule, stratosphere, smog, industrial
     content words:    South Pole


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The Ozone Layer and You
By Cindy Grigg
  

1     There are many stories in the news about the hole in the ozone layer. What is the ozone layer, and why are people so concerned about this problem? Scientists have discovered that the ozone layer is getting thinner. Some predict that the sun's rays will cause a sharp increase in deaths from skin cancer over the next fifty years. These harmful rays can also damage the eyes, create wrinkles, and cause other health problems.
 
2     The stratosphere contains a form of oxygen called ozone. Ozone is a molecule composed of three oxygen atoms. The chemical symbol of ozone is O3. Oxygen molecules make up about 21% of all gases in the earth's atmosphere. They consist of two atoms of oxygen and are labeled O2. Most ozone found in our atmosphere is formed by an interaction between oxygen molecules and ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun. When ultraviolet radiation hits an oxygen molecule, it may cause the molecule to break apart into single atoms of oxygen. These single atoms are very reactive, and a single oxygen atom can combine with a molecule of oxygen to form ozone.
 
3     The individual ozone molecules make up what we call "the ozone layer." It is not, however, a very thick layer. There are usually fewer than three ozone molecules for every ten million molecules of air. That is why ozone is known as a trace gas, meaning that only trace (very small) amounts are present. We are fortunate that these small amounts make a big difference.

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