Importance of Oxygen

Oxygen is an important element in the atmosphere without which we cannot live. The word oxygen comes from the Greek words, ‘Oxus’ meaning ‘acid’ and ‘Gennan’ meaning ‘generate’. Obviously, we are all aware of that fact. Do you think that there is no other use of oxygen in our lives? Actually, pure oxygen has a lot of uses in our lives and the society.

First of all, it is important to understand how oxygen is formed in the atmosphere. In fact, a lot of processes contribute to the amount of oxygen level in the atmosphere. Oxygen originally reaches the earth from all parts of the universe in the form of meteorites. Plants also contribute to the release of oxygen into the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis which in turn is utilized by us for the process of respiration. In laboratories, it can be prepared by the electrolysis of water.

importance of oxygen

There are wide ranges of applications in which oxygen plays a pivotal role. Let us look into some of the applications in detail.

  • For Aquatic Life – Like the living organisms on land, aquatic animals also require oxygen for their survival. Deficiency of the oxygen level in water results in increasing the acidity of water. This makes the water poisonous and hence harmful to all the organisms living under the water.
  • Ozone Layer – We are protected from the harmful ultra-violet rays by the ozone layer. It is the layer created when the ultraviolet rays strike on the oxygen atoms resulting in the formation of ozone (O3) molecule. Hence, the deficiency of oxygen can even result in the depletion of the ozone layer.
  • Cancer Treatment – Oxygen is used to kill the cancer cells. The unstable form of oxygen which is known as the ozone helps in this process.
  • Therapeutic Processes – Oxygen in liquid form is usually used in the therapeutic processes. Even deep breathing helps a person to eliminate all the bacteria from his body.
  • Industries – Oxygen is used in large quantities for the various processes in the industries. Since oxygen is a very reactive gas, it is widely used in the cutting of metals. It is also used in the manufacturing of chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and nitric acid. Ethylene oxide which is an antifreeze material, polyester, etc., are all the products made using oxygen. In steel industries, it helps to convert iron ore into steel.
  • Welding – Oxygen in its compound form known as oxygen acetylene is used in the welding process where high-temperature arcs are required.
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Treatment – Carbon monoxide is a very harmful gas. If inhaled, it can cause even death. To remove the hazardous gas from our body, pure oxygen is used. Carbon dioxide poisoning is also treated with the help of oxygen.
  • Emergency Oxygen Tanks – In case of a deficiency of oxygen level in a person’s body, emergency oxygen tanks or cylinders are used. It can be seen in airplanes, hospitals, submarines, etc.
  • Burning – No items can be burned without the help of oxygen. For example, when a matchstick is tried to lit, its spark combines with the oxygen in the atmosphere to produce fire.
  • Waste Water Treatment – To save the aquatic organisms from the waste materials and other harmful substances, sewage water or wastewater is often treated with oxygen.
  • Rocket Fuel – The burning property of the oxygen is utilized in the burning of fuels in rockets.
  • Automobiles – Energy is produced in the automobiles, generators, ships, etc by the process of combustion of oxygen.
  • Mines – In mines, oxygen is used as an explosive for blasting the rocks.

Oxygen is an element which comprises 21% of the atmospheric volume. Oxygen deficiency is a very serious problem. People suffering from respiratory problems are treated with oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy is the process in which the oxygen is forcefully inserted into the lungs of a patient with the help of a mask or by a tube inserted through the nose of the patient.

Oxygen is important for the survival of all the living organisms. The energy required for our day-to-day activities is produced when the oxygen present in our blood burns the food consumed by us. Hence, a deficiency in oxygen means the lack of energy and this would affect the entire functioning of all the organs in our body. Moreover, a number of processes we carry out in the various industries depend on the supply of oxygen. In short, oxygen is an indispensable part of our lives.

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