Is O3 Polar or Nonpolar?

Answer: O3 is a polar molecule due to the presence of lone pair electrons on the central oxygen atom. This due to electron-electron repulsion forces the molecule into a bent structure. This results in an unequal distribution of charge throughout the molecule. 

Due to the presence of a weak polar dipole since all the atoms are identical, O3 also known as ozone has a melting point of -192˚C and a boiling point of -112˚C which is relatively higher than related molecules such as O2 (oxygen). Ozone has been described as a "pale blue" gas at standard temperature and pressure with a distinctive odor. Due to the large number of electronegative (3.44) oxygen's present in the molecule, it often serves as oxidizing agent readily removing electrons from substances/compounds. Ozone is therefore a very unstable molecule and readily decomposes at lower levels of the atmosphere into O2 (oxygen). It is typically formed by the input of UV radiation and short electrical bursts within the upper atmosphere.

To learn more about the closely related Lewis Structure for O2, feel free to check out this article.

O3 Ball and Stick Model
O3 Ball and Stick Model. Created with Avagadro.
How is O3 utilized in the real world?

Within the atmosphere where it exists naturally as described above O3 serves to absorb much of the UV radiation that reaches earth. This mitigates the effects of light rays that would alternatively cause skin and DNA damage for human cells. Certain compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons, molecules containing the halogens fluorine and chlorine along with carbon, create the kinds of "free radicals" necessary to convert O3 back into O2 in the upper atmosphere. This in turn degrades the ozone layer and leaves life exposed to the dangerous effects of the higher-energy UV rays. Ozone is also utilized for wastewater treatment and other types of deep cleaning since it has a capacity to interfere with carbon-carbon bonds. This makes it useful in destroying certain organic life. In fact, human exposure to ozone can also have dangerous effects. Low-level ozone production often goes hand-in-hand with the different pollutants that are components of smog. Urban areas general suffer from more ozone pollution due to the increase of human activity in those regions.

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