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Facharbeit: The Ozone Hole Over Australia And Its Effects On Children And Their Daily Life!

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Name: Xxx xxx School: xxx Gymnasium Location: Wuppertal Subject: English basic course No. 2 Teacher: Mr xxx Date: 04.06.2001

Title: The ozone hole over Australia and its effects on children and their daily life.

Table of contents
I. Introduction 3
II. Main part 3
1. Basics 3
1.1 Ozone and ultra-violet radiation (chemical definitions and explanations) 3
1.2 Natural occurrence and function of ozone 4
1.3 The ozone hole over Australia 5
1.4 Most important reasons for the depletion of ozone 6
2. Effects of the ozone hole over Australia 6
2.1 Biological effects 6
2.1.1 Health effects 6
2.1.2 Special effects on children 8
2.2 Effects on their daily life 8
2.3 Other effects 9
3. Prevention of health effects 9
3.1 Campaigns 9
III. Summary 10
IV. Attachments 12
V. References 13
VI. Author’s statement 15

I. Introduction
All over the world the ozone layer is thinning, causing a higher ultra-violet radiation on earth. Due to this, in Australia skin cancer has reached epidemic proportions. About two thirds of the population there will develop some sort of skin cancer during their lifetime. Australia and New Zealand also have the highest rate of deaths from melanoma in the world. Today the ozone hole is extending over 32,9 million square kilometres (3 times the size of Australia).
All this has been caused by human action and there is no chance of solving this problem within the next years. I have chosen to write about this topic, because I believe that most people do not care about and do not even know about the effects this depletion of ozone has on their children. I had a few conversations about the ozone hole and the risk of skin cancer with some Australian teenagers and they all agreed that they do not care about it. They do not even think about it when they are outside in the sun. In the following study I will concentrate on the questions: “What effects does the ozone hole have on children?”, “In what way does this affect their daily life?”, and “What is done to inform people about possible risks and ways to protect themselves?”.
As much as 78% of non-melanoma skin cancer could be prevented if children would be protected better. This result shows that the risk of health damage can be decreased, making it even more valuable to get some information about it.
I will begin this study by giving a chemical definition of ozone and ultra-violet radiation and then explaining its natural occurrence and its functions.
Ozone and ultra-violet radiation
Ozone is a gas, coloured pale blue when highly concentrated. An ozone molecule consists of three oxygen atoms and is formed by several electromagnetic actions on oxygen. These reactions require a lot of energy, which is delivered by the UV radiation in the atmosphere. It has a typical odour you can smell after a thunderstorm or around certain machines, which produce ozone.

Simplified process of development:
Ozone is rated irritating, toxic and explosive, even in low concentrations due to its extremely high reactivity and the problem that it is rather unstable.

The other important term I will use in this study is ultra-violet radiation. This so-called UV radiation is a short-wave radiation emitted by the sun, invisible to the human eye. It is divided into three parts, according to the wavelength:
UV-C radiation (wavelength between 200nm and 280nm)
UV-B radiation (wavelength between 280nm and 315nm)
UV-A radiation (wavelength between 315nm and 400nm)
UV-C radiation is the most powerful and therefore most dangerous part, but the stratospheric and tropospheric ozone absorbs it. This layer of ozone also absorbs the UV-B radiation, which is biologically harmful, causing changes in the chemical structure of the DNA of living cells. The least harmful UV-A radiation passes through the stratosphere without being absorbed.
Generally UV radiation reaches the earth’s surface in two ways. One half is the so-called direct radiation you can protect yourself from by avoiding direct sunlight. The other half is so-called diffuse radiation, you cannot protect yourself from, as it is scattered and even reaches shady places.
Natural occurrence and function of ozone
On the one hand about 90% of all ozone present on earth is naturally located in the atmosphere at heights of 10-50 km above the earth’s surface in the so-called stratosphere. On the other hand it also forms a small component of about 10% of the constituents of the atmosphere on the surface.

In general you have to distinguish between the so-called “good” and “bad” ozone. Up in the stratosphere where the ozone layer is located, ozone (O3) absorbs UV radiation in a complex reaction, forming oxygen (O2/O). These oxygen atoms in turn react with UV radiation, forming ozone. This “good” ozone acts as a protective layer, saving life on earth from biological (physiological) damage. A few more percent of the UV-B and UV-C radiation reaching the surface would annihilate life on this planet. Therefore you could characterize its function as an essential protective shield, necessary for us to survive. The process of absorbing UV-B and UV-C radiation is quite complex. Ozone is both produced and destroyed during this process. So I will present a simplified mechanism for the formation and the destruction of ozone:

Formation of ozone (absorption of UV-C radiation):

Destruction of ozone (absorption of UV-B radiation):
On the other side there is the “bad” ozone, which is located in the lower atmosphere on the earth’s surface, where we live and breathe. Here it is a component of smog, occurring in summer at high temperatures. But as this “bad” ozone has nothing to do with the ozone hole, I will not go into details.

The ozone hole over Australia
Many people believe that the ozone hole would be located over Australia. This is only partly true, as in fact the ozone hole’s centre lies over the Antarctic. But due to its extremely huge size of more than 32,9 million square kilometres1 it is extending over populated areas all over Australia and New Zealand. Unfortunately there is not only an increased ultra-violet radiation directly below the ozone hole, but even in the surrounding zone. This is caused by the diffused, scattered radiation which of cause got stronger, too, throughout the last years.

The depletion of ozone over the Antarctic began to get worse approximately 15 years ago and usually is worst in spring. Every spring as much as 95% of the ozone in the atmosphere is destroyed. In 1996 the ozone hole covered 5% of the surface of earth2:
The ozone hole over the Antarctic (1996)
Most important reasons for the depletion of ozone
On the one hand the primary ozone-damaging chemicals are the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and chlorine monoxides, which were used in old refrigerators, air conditioning devices, spray cans and in many other products as solvents.
The problem is that those substances are extremely chemically stable, so that they remain in the atmosphere for decades. Due to this and the fact that within the process of the depletion of the ozone layer those chemicals act as a catalyst, one single chlorofluorocarbon molecule can destroy more than a hundred thousand ozone molecules1. The depletion is worst in spring, because at that time the temperatures are lowest and this supports the destruction of ozone.
On the other hand there are “natural” chemicals like methane, which also deplete ozone. Methane is produced in huge amounts by livestock, both in modern and traditional agriculture. All in all the ozone hole is a man-made disaster, which is likely to increase.
As methane is lighter that air it quickly rises to the stratosphere, where the ozone layer is located, whereas the CFCs are heavier than air. But nevertheless they reach the stratosphere, too, regardless to their weight. Measurements show, that they are probably carried up high into the atmosphere by winds.
At this point I also need to remark that the ozone hole over Antarctica has been mainly caused by industrialised nations in the northern hemisphere. They released those chemicals, which were then moved towards the poles by winds and then caused a disastrous depletion of the ozone layer there.

Health effects
To become aware of the dimension of the biological consequences caused by the depletion of ozone, it is important to know the effects the increasing ultra-violet radiation has on human beings.
A generally-known effect is the reddening or burning people experience after longer exposure to UV radiation. This change is caused by an expansion of the skin’s blood vessels. Usually a few days later this reddening is followed by a permanent tan. In this chase a pigment called melanin is formed in the pigment cells of the skin. Though there are several myths, claiming that tanned skin looks attractive and healthy and at the same time protects against skin cancer, longer exposure instead is extremely unhealthy. A tan is a warning sent out by the skin to show that it has received too much UV radiation and that there might even be a genetic damage. On the one hand it causes the so-called photo ageing (wrinkles, blotchiness or sagging) and on the other hand it has been proved that the risk of getting skin cancer later in lifetime increases dramatically. Skin cancer itself is the most dangerous effect. Today nonmelanoma skin cancer is easily treated, whereas melanomas are still extremely dangerous. People with freckles, light hair and light skin are especially endangered.
melanoma (a tumour which causes skin cancer)
Another harmful effect is immunosuppression, which has been proven by research on both humans and animals. It is regardless of the skin pigmentation so that everybody is affected. It shows itself as a suppression of allergic reactions of the skin and weakens the immune system. In this situation the body is unable to produce antigens, which are required to defence against a variety of diseases. In future this may bring about a much more rapid spread and severity of infectious diseases1.
Another harmful effect UV rays have on humans is ocular damage. The most common eye diseases caused by UV rays are cataracts and blindness. The reason for this eye damage is that the human eye is unable to adapt to ultra-violet radiation like human skin does by changing its colour. So the cells in the cornea, the lens and the retina are damaged significantly stronger than skin cells. For this reason eye cancer is also occurring more often in Australia and New Zealand than anywhere else.

Special effects on children
Unfortunately, for children and infants the risk of severe biological damage is much higher than for grown-ups. Especially infants are unable to move themselves out of the sunlight, if they feel unpleasant. And for their parents it is hard to protect them, as they cannot smell or see the UV rays. For children and teenagers it is also very dangerous, as they spent a lot of time outside in the sun, doing sports or just playing. Usually they do this at noon or afternoon when the UV radiation is strongest (between 10 AM and 4 PM) and besides this sand, concrete and water can reflect up to 85% of the UV rays1 which leads to an almost doubled radiation.
In children’s age there is a much higher risk of getting severe eye damage, because at that age the lens of the eye has not developed completely and is unable to filter or absorb radiation so that the radiation directly reaches the back of the eye. There the cells in the retina slowly begin to deteriorate, causing eye cancer, cataracts or even blindness.
Another problem children (especially infants) suffer from is that their skin has only a very low melanin level, what makes it almost impossible for their skin to adapt to the radiation. So the risk of getting a strong sunburn or even skin cancer is very high. And if they should get some sunburns during childhood this also increases their risk of developing melanoma in adulthood by 80%2.

Effects on their daily life
As children have to avoid direct sunlight in order to protect themselves from ultra-violet radiation they have to spend their leisure time complete different from the way European children spend their leisure time. All day they have to avoid sunlight, whereas most Europeans enjoy being outside in the sun as long as possible.
Whenever Australian children leave their house they have to wear special hats, which are covering their ears, too, though summer temperatures are as high as 100° F. Beside this, children may not even go outside with a short t-shirt, as they have to cover their entire skin which they do not like and as children do not quite realize the dangers, they believe all that to be ridiculous and do not care about health risks.
Whenever they go to the beach for swimming, they have to wear a shirt. There is nothing they can do, without having to wear appropriate clothes. But as even this only filters out a few percent of the UV radiation, most children have to stay inside the house until late afternoon.
At school sometimes the pupils even have to stay inside the school buildings during brakes, when ultra-violet radiation exceeds a certain value.

Other effects
The ozone hole over Australia does not only affect public health, but also the whole economy will suffer from the increase of radiation in future. On the one hand livestock will develop skin cancer and other damage to the DNA in their skin’s cells, too, and there is an increased risk of diseases, as their immune system will be weakened. On the other hand tourism, which is central to Australia’s economy, will face problems in future, as tourist do not want to risk negative health effects1.

Due to the increasing number of skin cancer cases and as millions of dollars have been spent for curing cancer or eye diseases, there have been several campaigns in Australia, to make the people realize that they have to protect themselves. This campaigns were started by both the government and by charities. One of these charities is the “Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria”, which was set up as a charitable body 1936 by an Act of Victorian Parliament. They started campaigns all over the continent under the label of “SunSmart”.
There are several other attempts to inform people about the risks of exposure to sunlight, but I will exemplarily present the latest “SunSmart” campaign, started in 1998.
To make the campaign attractive to children and teenagers, they promote short and simple slogans and there is always a comic figure as a good example, which shows them how to behave correctly. In this campaign the simple slogan is “Slip! Slop! Slap!” and the campaign is represented by “Sid Seagull”1.

“Slip! Slop! Slap!” stands for:
“Slip on a shirt and other clothing that covers up the skin”
“Slop on some sunscreen that is labelled SPF 15 or higher, broad spectrum and water resistant”
“Slap on a hat with a wide brim, or a cap with flaps to shade the neck and ears”2
“Wrap on a pair of sunglasses. Choose close-fitting, wrap-around glasses which meet the Australian Standard AS 1067:1990”3
“Wrap!” is nowadays included in more and more slogans, but as it does not start with the letter “s” it does not fit to the others. But as it rhymes with them, many campaigns added it to the most poplar “Slip! Slop! Slap!”. To attract children even more they published games, songs and commercials on TV and on the internet which promote this simple message, so that during the last decades Australians and New Zealanders were bombed with this simple message.
For further information on this particular campaign please refer to the attachment or visit their website at

III. Summary
All in all it is proven that the stratospheric ozone layer over Australia and Antarctica has been destroyed by human action. This damage is progressive and it will take several decades until the ozone hole will have healed. The effects on human beings and other biological systems are serious. Especially children are endangered as their skin is unable to adapt to the sunlight and as they spend a lot of time outside in the sun. Today and in future there will also be economic damages, as those people with eye diseases or skin cancer need to receive medical treatment. And as tourists will suffer from these effects, too, this might also cause a big loss for the tourism industry.
Most countries already signed the Montreal Protocol, which prohibits the use of ozone-damaging chemicals, but there are several other things we must do to prevent further depletion of ozone in the atmosphere. Besides this a lot of research is needed to decrease risks to public health.
Fortunately there are several campaigns which try to inform the people of possible risks and try to make them realise that something has to be changed in their everyday life and that they only have to follow some simple rules to protect themselves. As these campaigns cooperate with schools there are already more than 2000 schools in Victoria which are accredited to be “SunSmart”1. Besides these institutions even do some research and offer free training for professionals to teach them how to inform children, so that most school’s official policies already include education on sun protection topics.
While my study so far described the published opinion, the reality may be completely different. I have had several conversations about all this subject with three Australian teenagers. Although they all knew “Sid Seagull” and the meaning of “Slip! Slop! Slap! & Wrap!”, none of them cared about this at all. They all agreed that no classmate would ever wear a hat or even stay inside the house from noon till late afternoon. Everyone of them had several sunburns in his childhood, but they did not worry about skin cancer or eye diseases, neither.
For me these statements were rather unexpected, as I felt quite sure that after all those campaigns every Australian was afraid of sunburns, skin cancer or eye diseases. Whenever there are documentary films or other reports about Australia on television, they always presented several families who were a hundred percent “SunSmart”.
Concluding this study, I would rate it useful and interesting, but time-consuming. It really took a lot of time to prepare and write the text, but it was a learning exercise how to write such a study. When I will visit an university in a few years, I will have to write several studies there and this one has been some a practice for me, different from what we learn in our regular lessons at school. It also has been very interesting to collect information about the ozone hole and its effects, as this is a global problem, not only Australian, but also people on other continents may have to suffer from in the near future.
V. References
Guide to ozone,, 02.27.2001.
Rekord Ozonloch über dem Südpol, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurt, 15.09.2000, Seite 3.
American Academy of Pediatrics, Ultraviolet Light: A Hazard to Children,, 02.27.2001.
Anti-Caner Council of Victoria (SunSmart), SunSmart,, 02.26.2001.
S. Beder, Saving Ozzie Skins From Depletion,, Australia Teachers Journal, vol.39, no.3, September 1993.
Cancer Council, Summer 97/98 Campaign – Save your child’s skin fact sheet,, 02.26.2001.
Cancer Council, Sun Protection for Babies – Background Information,, 02.26.2001.
Cancer Society of New Zealand, Lifestyle and the Sun,, 02.26.2001.
Commonwealth of Australia 2001, Ozone Home Page,, 02.26.2001.
G. Edwards, What is Ozone?,, 01.18.2001.
Flörke – Wolff, Chemie Sekundarstufe II Neubearbeitung 4.Auflage, Dümmler, 2000.
C. Högermann u. W. Kriche, Biologie Plus Klasse 8, Volk und Wissen, Berlin, 2001
Holleman – Wieberg, Lehrbuch der anorganischen Chemie 71.-80. Auflage, de Gryter, Berlin, 1971.
J. Hooper, Information For SunSmart Families,, 26.02.2001.
I. Jerger, Videobegleittext zum Film: Ozon – Unten zuviel, oben zuwenig, Institut für Film und Bild in Wissenschaft und Unterricht (FWU), Grünwald, 1999.
J. M. Last, Global Change: Ozone Depletion, Greenhouse Warming, and Public Health,, 01.18.2001.
S. Lieberman, For Sun Protection: Slip, Slop, and Slap,, 02.26.2001.
myDr, Australians Again Urged To ‘Slip! Slop! Slap!’,, 02.26.2001.
P. Zeihan, Shrinking Ozone Threatens Nations Down Under, 12.15.2000.

VI. Author’s statement
“I herewith declare that this study was solely written on my own, without anyone’s help, using only the resources and references listed.”
Location, Date Signature
I will elaborate on all information provided in this introduction in the main part.
1 This value varies from 28,3 to 32,9 million square kilometres, according to the source.
2 C. Högermann and W. Kricke, Biologie Plus Klasse 8, page 168-169.
1 J. M. Last,, page 2.
1 J. M. Last,, page 3.
1 American Academy of Pediatrics,, page 1.
2 page 2.
1 P. Zeihan,, page 3
1 See attachment No. 1.
2 Cancer Council,, page 1.
3 J. Hooper,, page 1.
1 Anti-Caner Council of Victoria (SunSmart),, page 1.
Eine sehr gelungene Facharbeit im Fach Englisch zum Thema Australien / Ozonloch. In der Facharbeit werden die Auswirkungen, die Ursachen und die gesamte Problematik dargestellt. Komplett mit Titelblatt, Quellenverzeichnis, etc... (3497 Wörter)
Ozone Hole | Australia | Effects on Children and Their Daily Life | Skin Cancer | Ozonloch | Australien | New Zealand | Neuseeland
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