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The Dr. Jekyll - Mr. Hyde Molecule and the Case of the Vanishing Ozone



The Dr. Jekyll - Mr. Hyde Molecule and the Case of the Vanishing Ozone
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.18

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    fiend, nonflammable, nonpoisonous, ozein, reschedule, ominous, murderous, potion, chlorofluorocarbons, montreal, ozone-depleting, benevolent, human-made, smog, propellant, respectable
     content words:    Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Jekyll, Edward Hyde, Los Angeles, United States, Montreal Protocol, Ozone Layer


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The Dr. Jekyll - Mr. Hyde Molecule and the Case of the Vanishing Ozone
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a story about how a strange chemical potion transformed good looking, respectable Dr. Henry Jekyll into an ugly, murderous fiend named Mr. Edward Hyde. Ever since, the term "Jekyll and Hyde" has been used to describe the good and bad parts of anything. There is even a Jekyll and Hyde molecule in our own atmosphere, and it's called ozone.
 
2     Ozone is a beautiful blue gas, and it is composed of three oxygen molecules. Small amounts of ozone are formed during natural events such as lightning storms. The word ozone comes from the Greek word ozein, which means "to smell." You may have noticed the strange, sharp smell of ozone during a thunderstorm, standing next to a power line, or when playing with a toy electric train. These small amounts of ozone do not cause problems. Ozone is also made when chemicals produced by emissions from factories, vehicles, and refineries interact with sunlight. These reactions produce too much ozone, and this causes problems.
 
3     Ozone acts like ominous Mr. Hyde when it is in the lower atmosphere because it affects the respiratory system of animals and people. It irritates and restricts lung tissues, which causes coughs, chest pains, headaches, and sleepiness. It also affects people with heart disease, asthma, or emphysema. Ozone is the most dangerous element in smog. Los Angeles has the worst ozone levels in the United States, and sometimes schools reschedule sports events during smog alerts. Children are especially vulnerable to harmful levels of ozone because they breathe in more air for their size than adults, and they are outside more often.

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