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Breath of Life: Air – Composition, Structure, Properties

Last Updated : 10 Jun, 2022
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The atmosphere is the air envelope that surrounds our earth. It is required for life to exist on Earth. Aquatic species breathe by inhaling water-dissolved air. Plants and animals rely on one another to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide from the air. Because the air is all around us, we can’t see it. It is a mixture of multiple gases. The Earth’s atmosphere is made up of around 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. There are also trace amounts of other gases in the air, such as carbon dioxide, neon, and hydrogen.

Both water and soil contain air. Air consists of the following elements: nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and a few other gases. It could also contain dust particles. All living things require oxygen, which aids in the combustion process. The planet’s atmosphere is the air envelope that surrounds it. Because air is invisible, we frequently forget that it is all around us. As we blow air into a balloon, we can feel the air pushing on it.

Properties of Air

  1. Air is colorless.
  2. It is odorless.
  3. Air can only be felt.
  4. It is a blend of many gases. and thus, they take up space.
  5. It has mass, and the pressure imposed by it is called air pressure.
  6. Air swells and takes up more area when heated. The thinner it becomes as it expands. As a result, the pressure of the warm wind is lower than the pressure of the cold wind.

Oxygen for Respiration

To do all of our daily activities, our bodies require oxygen to obtain energy. Carbon dioxide is created as a byproduct of this process. Through its conduction and respiratory zones, the respiratory system transports air from the environment to the lungs and allows gas exchange in the lungs and within cells. Oxygen is commonly found as a gas in the environment and accounts for 20.9% of the atmosphere’s total volume. It can be found in seas, lakes, rivers, and ice caps as water. Oxygen makes up about 89 percent of the weight of water. The act of breaking down food molecules using oxygen is known as aerobic respiration. The bulk of organisms use oxygen simply for one purpose: to extract energy from food for cell use.

Structure of Atmosphere

Beginning at the earth’s surface, our atmosphere is separated into five levels.

  1. Troposphere: The atmosphere’s most vital layer, Its average elevation is 13 kilometers. The air we breathe is present here. Most meteorological phenomena, such as rainfall and hailstorms, occur here.
  2. Stratosphere: It is located immediately above the troposphere and ozone is present here. It reaches a height of 50 kilometers. This layer is suitable for flying planes since it is free of associated meteorological phenomena.
  3. Mesosphere: This is the atmosphere’s second and third layers. It is located above the stratosphere. It reaches a height of 80 kilometers.
  4. Thermosphere: Temperature rises fast with increasing height in the thermosphere. This sphere includes the ionosphere. It stretches between 80-400 kilometers. This layer is useful for radio communications.
  5. Exosphere: The exosphere is the uppermost layer of the atmosphere.

Components of Air

Around 78 percent of nitrogen and 21% of oxygen make up the Earth’s atmosphere. Other gases, such as carbon dioxide, neon, and hydrogen, are also present in trace levels in the air. The air we breathe is made up of molecules from a variety of gases. The most frequent gases are nitrogen (78%), oxygen (about 21%), and argon (approximately 2%). (about 2 percent). Other molecules, albeit in minute amounts, can also be found in the atmosphere.

  • Oxygen: Although oxygen and air are not the same things, they are frequently used interchangeably. Air, on the other hand, is a complex mixture of elements, whereas oxygen is a single element. The major component of the earth, air, contains a healthy combination of components that contribute to human survival.
  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen accounts for 78 percent of the air with most of it being trapped in the primordial material that formed the Earth. When they collided, they solidified, and their nitrogen content has been leaking out of the planet’s molten fractures ever since.
  • Argon: When an inert environment is required, argon is usually used and is usually used in the synthesis of titanium and other reactive elements. It is used by welders to shield the weld region, and incandescent light bulbs to keep the filament from corroding due to oxygen.
  • Carbon dioxide: The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was 409.8PPM. Carbon dioxide levels have risen to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years.
  • Water vapor: The amount of water vapor in the air is referred to as absolute humidity. The amount of water vapor in the air in comparison to the amount of water that the air can hold is referred to as relative humidity.
  • Smoke and dust particles: Smoke is present in our atmosphere due to the combustion of fuels. It is a gas mixture that is frequently dangerous. Apart from them, dust particles can be seen in our atmosphere when a ray of light shines through a dark place. Smoke and dust particles account for less than 1% of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Conceptual Questions

Question 1: How do you know there is the air around us?


There is air everywhere we go. We can’t see the air around us, but we can feel it when the leaves ruffle or the trees sway.

Question 2: Is nitrogen a combustible gas?


Nitrogen is a non-flammable, colorless, odorless gas or cryogenic liquid. The major health risk associated with the emission of this gas is asphyxiation, which is produced by the displacement of oxygen.

Question 3: What causes nitrogen to be explosive?


Nitrogen-containing molecules are explosive due to the huge release of energy that occurs when nitrogen-nitrogen triple bonds form. A second factor contributes to nitrogen compounds’ explosive nature: newly formed nitrogen molecules form a gas, which can expand fast and trigger a shock wave.

Question 4: Does air take up space?


Yes, anything with bulk will take up space. Hence, air occupies space.

Question 5: What is the atmosphere?


The atmosphere is a covering of gases that protects all life on Earth by balancing temperatures within a narrow range and screening out damaging rays of sunlight.

Question 6: What is aerosol?


An aerosol is a tiny solid particle or liquid droplet suspension in the air or another gas. Fog or mist are natural aerosols, while particle air pollution and smoke are manmade aerosols.

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