Oxygen: familiar and unfamiliar

Oxygen is not only one of the most common chemical elements on earth, but also the most important for human life. We take it for granted. Rather, we know more about the life of celebrities than about a substance that we cannot live without. This article provides facts about oxygen that you may not know.

We breathe not only oxygen

Oxygen makes up only a small part of the air. The Earth’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen and about 21% oxygen. Nitrogen is also essential for respiration, but oxygen sustains life. Unfortunately, the level of oxygen in the atmosphere is slowly declining due to carbon dioxide emissions.

Oxygen makes up two-thirds of our weight

You know that 60% of the human body is water. And water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen is heavier than hydrogen, and the weight of water is mainly due to oxygen. This means that 65% of the human body weight is oxygen. Together with hydrogen and nitrogen, this makes up 95% of your weight.

Half of the earth’s crust is made up of oxygen

Oxygen is the most abundant element in the earth’s crust, accounting for over 46% of its mass. 90% of the earth’s crust is made up of five elements: oxygen, silicon, aluminium, iron and calcium.

Oxygen does not burn

Interestingly, oxygen itself does not ignite at any temperature. This may seem counterintuitive, because oxygen is needed to sustain a fire. This is true, oxygen is an oxidizing agent, it makes other substances combustible, but does not ignite itself.

O2 and ozone

Some chemicals, called allotropics, can exist in several forms, combining in different ways. There are many allotropes of oxygen. The most important is dioxygen or O2, which is what humans and animals breathe.

Ozone is the second important allotrope of oxygen. Three atoms are combined in its molecule. Although ozone is not needed for breathing, its role is undeniable. Everyone has heard about the ozone layer, which protects the earth from ultraviolet radiation. Ozone is also an antioxidant. For example, ozonated olive oil is considered very beneficial for health.

Oxygen is used in medicine

Oxygen cylinders are not the only way to use it. A new practice called hyperbaric oxygen therapy is being used to treat migraines, wounds and other conditions.

Oxygen needs to be replenished

When breathing, the body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. Oxygen molecules do not themselves arise in the earth’s atmosphere. Plants do the work of replenishing oxygen reserves. They absorb CO2 and release pure oxygen. Normally, this symbiotic relationship between plants and animals maintains a stable balance of O2 and CO2. Unfortunately, deforestation and transport emissions threaten this balance.

Oxygen is very stable

Oxygen molecules have an atom that is more strongly bonded than other allotropes such as molecular nitrogen. Studies show that molecular oxygen remains stable at a pressure 19 million times higher than that of the earth’s atmosphere.

Oxygen dissolves in water

Even those living beings that live underwater need oxygen. How do fish breathe? They absorb oxygen dissolved in water. This property of oxygen makes it possible for aquatic flora and fauna to exist.

The northern lights are caused by oxygen

Those who have seen this amazing sight in the northern or southern latitudes will never forget its beauty. The glow of the northern lights is the result of the collision of oxygen electrons with nitrogen atoms in the upper part of the earth’s atmosphere.

Oxygen can cleanse your body

Respiration is not the only role of oxygen. The body of a number of people is not able to absorb nutrients. Then, with the help of oxygen, you can cleanse the digestive system. Oxygen is used to cleanse and detoxify the gastrointestinal tract, which improves overall well-being.


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