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How does burning fossil fuels deplete the ozone layer?

There are two fairly weak direct effects on the ozone layer of combustion, but more combustion byproducts:

  1. Reduces available oxygen, from which to make ozone. This effect would take a long time to reach the ozone layer.
  2. Soot particles that might make it to the ozone layer (by some stretch) and these will directly consume some ozone (making CO2).

Associated with most power production (including coal) are large cooling towers. These dump waste heat to the atmosphere, as water vapor. Both heat and water vapor also decrease ozone concentrations... but these also are released below the cloud layer, so effects will yet still be minimal.

A vehicle that runs on petroleum produces these effects. A vehicle that runs on renewable fuels produces these effects, but the plants are in place to absorb the CO2 again. But all non-electric vehicles release water vapor into the atmosphere... even fuel cells. And during charging of wet-cell batteries, even they release hydrogen (which largely oxidizes to water vapor).

Let's break this into two questions:

How does air pollution affect trophospheric ozone, or ozone in the air we breathe?

Air pollution is inclusive of ozone. Ozone is made by NOx (a byproduct of combustion), VOCs (unburned fuel and compounds from natural sources too), and violet to ultraviolet light from the Sun. So air pollution and sunlight makes more / different air pollution.

How does air pollution affect the ozone layer?

There is no clear direct link between air pollution and depletion of the ozone layer. However, combustion processes decrease oxygen and increase water vapor. Both of these serve to decrease ozone concentrations in the upper atmosphere. It just takes months for some of these "pollutants" (or decreased oxygen levels) to propagate to the upper atmosphere. Probably more damaging is the loss of plants...

Bus exhaust consumes oxygen, which eventually will not be available to make ozone. Bus exhaust releases water vapor, which can in part reach the tropopause a increase the rate at which ozone decays.

However, bus exhaust will have a smaller net effect on the "ozone layer" than each passenger driving his or her own car.

Ozone is formed from oxygen. Cars decrease oxygen, so reduce the amount of oxygen that is available to eventually migrate up to the tropopause.

Ozone is catalyzed to decay by the presence of water vapor. Cars produce water as a waste product, so increase the humidity that is available to eventually migrate up to the tropopause.

Cars produce NOx and VOCs, which produce ozone at low altitiude, where it does nothing to protect us, yet further reduces the amount of oxygen available AND migrate up to help make ozone at altitude too. (so a little plus and minus.)

Note that aircraft do all this much closer to the tropopause.

All of this is also true (except for the NOx part) of the little 80 watt light bulbs that are called people. And cows. And decay on forest floors, waste heaps, and sewage treatment plants.

Which is not to say "ozone holes" do not form naturally. Which is not to say that if ozone is destroyed in the tropopause, it will not form at any altitude that 215nm UV reaches. Only that all processes are interconnected.

Pollutants can cause Ozone Layer depletion, and large gaps to form in the ozone above a certain specific area.

We have identified some compounds in the "ozone hole", and they were primarily (at one time) refrigerants.


Burning fossil fuels produces CO2 it is the CO2 that is destroying to ozone layer.

The fuel makes air pollution witch makes the ozone layer thin

Water vapor in air pollution blocks one path of ozone formation (involving N2O*), and accelerates the natural decay of ozone (via formation of H2O2).

To the extent that air pollution increases temperatures, increasing temperature increases the rate of ozone decay (ozone absorbs IR, so surface temps couple to the "ozone layer" too).

If air pollution includes compounds that are not fully oxidized, and they make it as high as teh "Ozone layer", ozone will be consumed in oxidizing them.

If air pollution is produced by lowering oxygen concentration, then less ozone is made by the Sun, since ozone is made from oxygen.

exhausts give of cfc's ( chlora flora carbons ) which harms the ozone. other dangers gases are given off to such as carbon monoxide

Air pollution has thinned the protective ozone layer above the Earth

beacause it damage our O-ZONE LAYER

Pollution is bad. Burning of some fossil fuels can be bad. They have virtually zero influence on the ozone layer. The cycles of our sun carry a heavier effect on the layer. Perhaps the supervisor could explain how CO2 causes issues with the ozone layer prior to deleting the comments they disagree with.

Yes pollution affects the ozone layer

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First answer by OzoneGuy. Last edit by N2146X. Contributor trust: 152 [recommend contributor]. Question popularity: 50 [recommend question]. > Wiki Answers > Categories > Science > Biology > Ecology and Bionomics > Environmental Issues > Global Warming > How does burning fossil fuels deplete the ozone layer?

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