if oxygen is essential to life then why is oxidation or oxidative process dangerous?


if oxygen is essential to life then why is oxidation or oxidative process dangerous?

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Oxidation is a very broad term that describes the process of any atom or ion losing 1 or more electrons.

Oxidation is named after Oxygen simply because oxygen is one of the best molecules to illicit oxidation due to its high electronegativity, which means it’s really good at taking electrons from other atoms, second only to fluorine, but most natural processes use oxygen, hence ‘oxidation’. The opposite of oxidation is reduction (oxygen atoms are reduced when they steal an electron to become an oxygen ion).

Oxidation (burning) of glucose in a controlled way so our cells can harness the energy released to sustain life = good

Oxidation of the compounds forming the DNA in your cells = bad

Oxidation of anything that’s not glucose is bad. When atoms/ions lose or gain electrons, the resulting new ion usually behaves in a very different way to the original.

NaCl is salt. We like it on our chips. If you reduce the Na and oxidise the Cl in salt, you get an explosive metal and a poisonous green gas.

Cars needs oxygen to burn their fuel too. But once the fuel is burnt, there’s only undesirable waste products left.

Oxygen is very reactive, so we need it in our “machinery” for it/us to work. But if it reacts with something else that it’s not intended to, it might turn that something else into garbage instead, but without us using the productivity from the reaction.

So if you react it with the chassis of the car instead of the fuel, the chassis will oxidize and turn into undesirable, weaker, rusty metal.

The world isn’t divided into good or bad. Things cause actions and those actions can be labeled good/bad, but that will depend on what our goals are. We need water to live, but if you drink too much, you’ll overdose and die. If you breathe it in, you’ll die.

Combustion is necessary for a car, but don’t let a match near the upholstery.

Oxygen has a tendency to bond to things. This makes it a great energy source, but also fairly unstable. If it gets somewhere that it shouldn’t be, it can cause serious harm because it is now somewhere that it shouldn’t be.

Our bodies are pretty good at controlling where oxygen is, and what form it’s in while it’s there, but if it ends up wrong it can still cause problems.

You can think of Oxygen as a “makes stuff happen” element. The problem with “making things happen” is that sometimes *too much* happens, or *wrong things* happen.

So a moderate amount allows respiration to happen and carbohydrates to be used for enough energy for life to continue, but too much will cause all the energy in those carbs to release too quickly (i.e. burn) or other similar “oxidation” processes.