Why is ozone important to living things?


Why is ozone important to living things?

Ozone layer in the stratosphere is important to living things primarily because it protects every living organism on Earth from the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays which comes out from the sun. It is also referred to as the umbrella of life, a UV filter, and Earth’s built in sunscreen since it absorbs 97-99% of sun’s harmful UV rays. Being exposed to UV radiation may cause serious health problems to all living organisms like sunburn, premature skin aging, and worst is skin cancer. Exposure to UV waves can also damage the eyes producing welder’s flash (or sunburn in the cornea) which may develop into cataracts, pterygium, and pinguecula (a type of conjuctival degeneration in the eye). And, extreme exposure to UV rays also weakens the body’s immune system and skin’s natural defenses making it susceptible to various illnesses.
Ozone layer is also important in the survival of every plant. Although plants need sunlight, too much of it can damage them. Without ozone layer, a high frequency of UV light will enter Earth’s atmosphere. And based on studies, excessive UV light exposure can alter a plant’s DNA which affects its cell growth and morphology.  The thinning of ozone layer is also linked to plant’s decreasing crop yield which is alarming because it can lead to worldwide malnutrition and food shortage. Also if plants are damaged, it can produce an imbalance in the ecosystem as a whole, pertaining to carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange. And without ozone layer, there can be an extreme draught and flooding around the world that can endanger the lives of many creatures.

Having said these, the importance of ozone layer to every living thing is great that it helps create a balance in Earth’s ecosystem which supports the very survival of every living organism. But, with the continuous depletion of Earth’s ozone layer, it is clear that the world and its inhabitants are in big trouble.

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