Phosphorus was discovered in the year 1669 by Henin Brandt. It is a polyvalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group. Phosphorus has the symbol P, atomic mass 30.9738, atomic number 15, melting point 44.2 °C, boiling point 280 °C, and density 1.82 g per ml at 20 °C.

There are mainly three types of phosphorus:-

  • White phosphorus.
  • Red phosphorus.
  • Black Phosphorus.

White Phosphorus is a deadly poison that glows in the dark, flammable when exposed to air. Red phosphorus burns when rubbed. It is used in the matchmaking industry. Black phosphorus is similar to graphite in appearance, which has an amazing ability to conduct electricity like graphite.

Uses of phosphorus

  • In making a fertilizer called phosphate for agricultural production.
  • In producing steel.
  • In smoke screening.
  • In making fireworks.
  • In making sodium lamps.
  • In making detergent.
  • In making pesticides.
  • In making incendiary bombs.
  • In making toothpaste.

Health effects of phosphorus

  • Phosphorus is also found in plants and foods and plays an important role in the human body. Both its deficiency and excess affect human health.
  • White phosphorus can cause skin irritation on contact.
  • Osteoporosis can occur if there is too much phosphorus in the body.
  • Excess phosphorus in the body can cause kidney problems.
  • Exposure to burning white phosphorus can cause severe damage to the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Effects of Phosphorus on the Environment

  • Phosphorus has a wide-ranging effect on living organisms, which is mainly a result of the release of large amounts of phosphate into the environment due to mining and farming.
  • The phosphor cycle is strongly disrupted due to the frequent addition of phosphates by humans and high natural concentrations.
  • The increasing concentration of phosphorus in surface water enhances the growth of phosphate-dependent organisms (such as algae, ducks, etc.).
  • When white phosphorus is used in some industry or in making chemicals or the army uses it as ammunition, white phosphorus enters the air, which has adverse health effects on contact.
  • Phosphorus in lakes, rivers, and deep soils is not destroyed for a long time and can survive for thousands of years.

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