What is oxygen?


Oxygen is a chemical element with an atomic number equivalent to 8. At room temperature and in its most common molecular form, which consists of a combination of two atoms, it forms a gas.

What is oxygen

In the latter case, it represents an important percentage of the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere and is essential for respiration and combustion phenomena; It is also odorless, tasteless and colorless.

Oxygen is a key element of organic chemistry, it is part of the water (H2O) of oxides, living beings and almost all acids and organic substances.

It is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas, which is very reactive and essential for breathing.

The Oxygen Atoms

Oxygen can also be found in a composition of three atoms called “ozone”. This gas, which forms the so-called “ozone layer” in the atmosphere.

It is also responsible for preventing the passage of harmful radiation from the sun while allowing the passage of ultraviolet light, essential for vegetables to produce their food.

It should be noted that when this happens, vegetables expel oxygen in a gaseous state to the environment, which will be used by other living beings so that the nutrients that they incorporate into their organism produce energy.

Who discovered oxygen?

The discovery of oxygen occurred between 1772 and 1773 by the Swedish chemist, of German origin, Karl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786).

Around the same time, the British Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) also discovered oxygen independently, while the Frenchman Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) was the first to publish a study on this chemical element, in 1777.

The discovery of oxygen is usually attributed to the works of Joseph Priestley. Prietsley’s experiment consisted of heating mercury monoxide, obtaining two vapors.

One formed drops of mercury when condensing, while the other remained in a gaseous state. Prietsley put it together and began experimenting.

He realized that if he approached the gas with an ember, it increased its level of combustion and that if he did it he would inhale the mice, they would become very active. Finally, Priesley inhaled the gas and felt very light; Today it is known that it was oxygen.

Breathe Pure Oxygen

Despite its importance for life, oxygen can be lethal to a human being if it is aspirated pure since it is usually aspirated in combination with nitrogen. It is also toxic when it forms the chemical compound called ozone.

In this way, for example, oxygen supplements are used in medical centers to alleviate or treat people who are suffering from pneumonia, emphysema or even various types of heart failure.

In the case of the industry, as we mentioned above, the chemical element is also used.
More concretely, one of the most widespread uses of the same is in the field of iron smelting to obtain steel.

However, it is also used to obtain textiles such as polyester or even antifreeze.

Oxygen and photosynthesis

The O2 is generated from the process of photosynthesis of plants and is used by animals and humans in respiration. Oxygen can be found in liquid form in laboratories and in solid form from temperatures below -219º.

What is hypoxemia?

The abnormal decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood is known as hypoxemia. Hypoxia, on the other hand, is the decrease in the diffusion of oxygen in tissues. As for anoxia, it is the almost total or absolute lack of oxygen. Anoxia can lead to the death of the organism.

In addition to the above, we can not ignore the existence in our colloquial language of some expressions that make use of the term oxygen that we are now analyzing.

This would be the case of the expression “oxygen ball”, with which we try to express that a person in a complicated or very committed moment of his life has found either a relief or an element that allows him to “breathe” and leave a bit of the situation in which it is immersed.

Oxygen-Function in the Body

Cellular respiration is the term used to describe the phase of the digestive process in which food is broken down to supply energy to cells.

During cellular respiration, the cells use oxygen to break down the sugar and produce ATP or adenosine triphosphate. ATP is the molecule that supplies energy to cells. The byproducts of the process are CO2 and water.

Lack of oxygen.

When the levels of this element are not adequate, there may be health problems. Tiredness, little vitality and the detail here are that the lack of this does not occur suddenly.

Rather with the passage of time and is generally due to environmental conditions: pollution, smoke, and in general everything that has to do with poor air quality that is breathed.

It is easy to overlook the important functions performed by this element in our body simply because we do not see it, but knowing how it works we can realize that it is essential to living.

It is practically oxygen that moves our bodies and allows us to be more active in daily life, so we will have to take care of the environment more so we can breathe cleaner air.

Benefits of Oxygen

The state of health, the level of activity and hydration are factors that affect the amount of oxygen a person needs.

Without adequate oxygen, medical problems are guaranteed. Some people have to resort to extraordinary measures to increase oxygen levels.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, for example, is a way to increase oxygen levels and can even remedy several medical problems.

There are many reasons why more oxygen is better. In one study, laboratory mice that received supplemental oxygen showed better cell counts. Better immune function and lived twice as long as mice with normal oxygen levels.

Consequences of the lack of oxygen

Oxygen deprivation does not have to be sudden, such as suffocation or drowning, to be a problem.

Lack of oxygen can be a long-term problem that occurs for months or years. The reasons are varied, but pollution and poor indoor air quality are among them.

The health effects of oxygen deprivation can be serious; they have even been linked to the growth of tumors. Environmental concerns are increasing the problem and oxygen levels in the atmosphere are declining.

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