KBEE – OZONE – Chapter Three: CFCs

by Suzanne Hauser and C Howard Diaz

Late-aftern6on, the K-Bees gathered again in the large auditorium.  With him, Colonel Matheson brought a box of products that would no longer be available because of a ban on CFCs, Chlorofluorocarbons.

The Colonel held up a can of hair spray.  “To many of you, especially you guys, this may not look too familiar.  It is a can of hair spray, probably used by your mom every day.

The unusual thing about this particular can is that it contains aerosol to make it spray.  Today, you’re used to seeing pump cans.  Pump, cans have come on the market to replace aerosol cans.

Why?  Because aerosol is thought to be one of the main contributors of CFC’s in our atmosphere.”

“We always bear about CFC’s like it’s a disease or something.  Can you tell us exactly what it means?” asked Jason.

“CFC stands for Chloro-Floro-Carbon.    Chloro represents chlorine.

And Chlorine is thought to be the destroyer of ozone.  In the theory we talked about this chlorine gets into our atmosphere and mixes with sunlight to destroy the ozone layer.

Many scientists believe that the way this chlorine gets into the atmosphere is through products that contain chlorine like aerosol and Freon, which is used in air-conditioning, among other things.”

“How does chlorine get into the atmosphere?  Does it just fly up?” Jonny asked.

“Precisely.  It is believed that when man-made products containing chlorine are released into the air, the chlorine molecules ascend into the ozone layer, mix with ultraviolet light and destroy the ozone molecules.”

“Wow, that’s pretty scary.  People must use a lot of hair spray!” commented.

Colonel Matheson shook his head.  “From what we’ve heard about the doomsday of ozone destruction, you might think that’s true.    But what about all the natural sources of chlorine?  Oceans, volcanos?   I think we need to take a look these. ”

Jonny agreed.  “I read a book all about the volcanos.  It said that Mount St. Helen’s was not a large eruption and still, its eruption on May 18, 1980 at 8:31 in the morning, had a force of more than 500 atomic bombs. ‘

“Also, it said that gasses and particulate matter *ere propelled 80,000 feet, that’s almost 15 miles, into the air and deposited above the ozone layer.  And that’s not all.

Scientists did many studies for seven months after that first eruption and they found that Mt.  St. Helen released 910,000 metric tons of chlorine, 220,000 metric tons of sulfur dioxide and unknown amounts of aerosols into the atmosphere.”

“Wow, Jonny,” Heather was shaking her head.  I can’t believe your photographic memory.  How do you ever remember so many facts?”

“I don’t want to seem dumb,” Jason added.  “But what did she say?

The other kids laughed and nodded in agreement.

“What Jonny was saying,” the Colonel explained, “is that even a small     volcano, on the scale of volcanos, can send many more tons of gasses and chemicals into our atmosphere than man could ever produce and use.  Volcanos have erupted throughout time and will continue to do so, unexpectedly, at a rate of about 100 per year.

Many are in remote locations and cannot or have not been measured.  Some estimates from large eruptions in the past suggest that all the air polluting materials produced by man since the industrial revolution do not begin to equal quantities of toxic material, aerosols and particulates spewed into the air from just three volcanos:

Krakatoa in Indonesia in 1883, Mt.  Katmai in Alaska in 1912 and Hekla in Iceland in 1947.

So, before making any judgement about man’s interference with our atmosphere, we must look at mother nature’s involvement.  Volcanos are one; tomorrow we’ll talk about Oceans.  ”

Colonel Matheson turned the children over to the counselors who gave them a tour of the center and let them play in the equipment room full of electronic devices used for measuring elements like speed, sound, light and chemicals.

Jonny found a white tab coat and a pair of protective goggles.  She pranced around the room inspecting everyone’s experiments.

Jason and Heather sat together at one of the microscopes.  “You better be careful, Jason.  I don’t know what great idea Jonny has for Kory and Mr. Musaka, but I can tell you you’re in f or trouble if you let her get you involved.  ” Heather looked sternly at Jason.

“Give me a break, do you think I’d let Jonny come up with a plan?  I already got my own ideas of how to find out what they’re up to.” Jason whispered.

Heather looked at him sideways and squinted her eyes questioningly.

Jason continued to whisper.  “I figure, if these guys are really spies) then we got to be better spies and check out their every move.”

“And just how do you plan to do that,” Heather asked.

“Why do you ask?  Do you want to help?” Jason asked.

“No, I’m just curious.  But if these guys really are spies, I just want to make sure they don’t catch you and throw you off the pier or something.  ”

“Meet Richard and me in our room tonight before dinner and I’ll tell you the plan.  And bring Jonny.” Jason slid off the wooden stool and slipped out the door.