The pH scale

The pH scale 

pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.

The concentration of specific ions in solution determines whether the solution is acidic or basic. Acids and bases can be described as substances that either increase or decrease the concentration of hydrogen (H+H+) or hydronium (H3O+H3O+) ions in a solution. An acid increases the hydrogen ion concentration in a solution, while a base decreases the hydrogen ion concentration.

pH is used to measure the concentration of H+H+ ions ([H+][H+]) and therefore, whether a substance is acidic or basic (alkaline). Solutions with a pH of less than seven are acidic, while those with a pH greater than seven are basic (alkaline). The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 and a pH of 7 is considered neutral.

The universal indicator changes colour from red in strongly acidic solutions through to purplepurple in strongly basicstrongly basic solutions.317d3f7b6e75658f6daa56463df970f4.png

The term pH was first used by in 1909 by Søren Peter Lauritz Sørensen (a Danish biochemist). The p stood for potenz and the H for hydrogen. This translates to power of hydrogen.pH

pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.

Litmus paper can be used as a pH indicator. It is sold in strips. Purple litmus paper will become red in acidic conditions and blue in basic conditions. Blue litmus paper is used to detect acidic conditions, while red litmus paper is used to detect basic conditions.

In agriculture, it is important for farmers to know the pH of their soils so that they are able to plant the right kinds of crops. The pH of soils can vary depending on a number of factors, such as rainwater, the kinds of rocks and materials from which the soil was formed and also human influences such as pollution and fertilisers. The pH of rain water can also vary, and this too has an effect on agriculture, buildings, water courses, animals and plants. Rainwater is naturally acidic because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere combines with water to form carbonic acid. Unpolluted rainwater has a pH of approximately 5,6. However, human activities can alter the acidity of rain and this can cause serious problems such as acid rain.

A build up of acid in the human body can be very dangerous. Lactic acidosis is a condition caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the body. It leads to acidification of the blood (acidosis) and can make a person very ill. Some of the symptoms of lactic acidosis are deep and rapid breathing, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In the fight against HIV, lactic acidosis is a problem. One of the antiretrovirals (ARV’s) that is used in anti-HIV treatment is Stavudine (also known as Zerit or d4T). One of the side effects of Stavudine is lactic acidosis, particularly in overweight women. If it is not treated quickly, it can result in death.

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