ClO Oc o2

Each chlorine atom can catalytically destroy many tens of thousands of ozone molecules in this manner. At any given time, however, the great majority of stratospheric chlorine normally exists not as CI nor as the free radical chlorine monoxide, CIO, but in a form that is not a free radical and that is inactive as a catalyst for ozone destruction. The two main catalytically inactive (or reservoir) molecules containing chlorine in the stratosphere are hydrogen chloride gas, HCl, and chlorine nitrate gas, C10N02.

The chlorine nitrate is formed by the combination of chlorine monoxide and nitrogen dioxide; after a few days or hours, a given C10N02 molecule is photochemically decomposed back to its components, and thus the catalytically active CIO is re-formed.

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