Oxygen Essay

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Oxygen, with an atomic number of eight, is one of the most common nonmetals. It is found in group 16, also known as the chalcogen family. A gas at room temperature, oxygen has a melting point of -361.82 Fahrenheit, a boiling point of -297.31 Fahrenheit, and an atomic weight of 15.9994. The name oxygen comes from the Greek words oxy and genes, which when put together mean “acid forming” (education.jlab.org). Its electron configuration is 1s2 2s2 2p4 and it has an oxidation state of 2. Oxygen was originally produced in 1774, but the chemists who had done so failed to recognize it. Joseph Priestley and Carl Wilhelm Scheele both discovered it, but Priestly is given the credit. They heated HgO to yield to product of oxygen. It is the third most abundant element in the universe and makes up about 21% of the earth’s atmosphere (education.jlab.org). It is also responsible for two thirds of the mass of the human body, is highly reactive, has three stable isotopes, and is capable of combining with many other elements. Because of its vast abundance and need, oxygen has many uses. One use, and most likely the most important, is for respiration. Oxygen is the final electron acceptor in the electron transport chain for respiration. It is also pumped through water, which increases the production of natural bacteria. This helps break down waste products due to oxygen’s high reactivity. Another use of oxygen is oxygen therapy that is used in may hospitals to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It works by increasing oxygen levels for these patients. The downside is that it can be detrimental for the body. Industrially, oxygen is used mostly for cutting and welding. The high temperatures oxygen can reach allow it to melt metals. On the other hand, when heat is removed, the metals can join together. Water is a compound most commonly formed by water. With a formula of

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