Chemistry of Biology


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Chemistry of Biology


There are many parts to every living thing. These basic parts have specialized jobs, which give shape and function of everything in the universe. The basic building block for all mass is the atom. There are many different parts to the atom. The electron is a negatively charged particle that revolves around the nucleus in electron shells. The electron is one of the smallest particles that make up the atom. The counterpart to the electron is the proton. This is a larger positive charged particle. These different atoms make up elements. An element is a collection of similar atoms. Examples of elements are oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. These elements can be used to build larger materials can molecules. A molecule is a collection of similar or different elements. Different prefixes and suffixes are used to describe the shape, composition, and number of particles. An example of this is trivalent chromium. This named is used to describe the number of lost electrons. Hexavalent chromium has a charge of plus six or it has lost six electrons. Chromium picolinate is the natural occurring form of chromium. It has not lost or gained a charge, or it is a neutral element.
Chromium is a very special type of element. It can be very safe and helpful, but in some forms the element can be radioactive and cause health problems in living things. In the movie Erin Bockovich, two types of hexavalent chromium and chromium picolinate. Chromium picolinate is a helpful and necessary element. It is found in many dietary supplements due to its role in the absorption of glucose in the cells. In many cases of type II or adult on-set diabetes, a regular supplement of chromium can control the disease (Chromium Information Bureau, www.chromiuminfo.org) . This natural occurring mineral is proving to be a very important piece to the fight against diabetes.
The second type of chromium occurs in very low levels naturally in the environment, but due to manufacturing, both land and water supplies can be contaminated with extremely high levels of the radioactive material. This can lead to many health problems in humans. These health problems can include cancer, natural abortions, birth defects and mutations. “Hexavalent chromium has been shown to be carcinogenic in humans, especially when inhaled as a dust” (Chromium Information Bureau, www.

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chromiuminfo.org). Exposure to this element can and has been very deadly.
Aquifers and other sources of groundwater are being polluted with hexavalent chromium everyday. Aquifers are large subterranean lakes. These aquifers are being both depleted for drinking water, but it is also being contaminated from pollutants in rainwater, on the soil, and dumped into lakes and rivers. Then it drains into the groundwater. These pollutants slowly make there way towards the aquifers and out our facets. One a polluted aquifers is found in Los Angles, “Despite a new study confirming that higher-than-recommended levels of chromium 6 are present in tap water at 110 LA government facilities” (www.netscape.digitalcity.com/losangeles/opinion/main.dci?page=chromium). This is just one example of the numerous polluted aquifers throughout the US.
Not only can hexavalent chromium be found in the water, it is also present in the soil. This is one of the ways the groundwater is polluted. The various types of soil hold pollutants differently. The best for holding contaminates is clay. The clay is very fine, easily compacted, and porous. This means that it holds water well. When a pollutant comes into contact with the soil, especially water-soluble pollutants, the clay holds the water in contaminating the topsoil.
Erin Brockovich opened many eyes when it addressed the problems of pollution. One example of a pollutant is chromium. In its natural state, it is necessary and helpful mineral, but when it is in the form of hexavlanet chromium it is deadly. For the sake of the future generations and the environment, we need to clean up the soil and water and stop the constant polluting.


Bibliography:
Miller, Tyler, Enviromental Science. Pacific Lodge: Brooks/Cole, 2001.

“Chromium Information Bureua.” www.chromiuminfo.org (5 December 2000).

“Los Angeles” www.netscape.digitalcity.com/losangeles/opinion/main.dci?page=chromium (5 December 2000).

Erin Brockovich. Dir. Steven Soderbergh. Perf. Julia Roberts. Universal Studios, 1998.


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