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Air Pollutant : Oxygen

Updated on August 9, 2010

Oxygen as an air pollutant

As the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declares carbon dioxide to be a pollutant, concomitant concern increases over the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere. Oxygen as an air pollutant must be considered. Damage caused by unregulated oxygen gasses are startling. As an air pollutant, oxygen packs a wallop.

Iron Oxidation

Oxidation describes the family of chemical reactions wherein oxygen combines with another element to produce a free electron and material byproducts. The damaging effects of one form of oxidation, commonly referred to as rust, are evident to anyone who ever owned an automobile. A joint study by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration and the National Association of Corrosion Engineers calculates that corrosion in general costs the US economy 279 billion per year, or about 3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GNP).

Iron oxidation (rust), a byproduct of oxygen air pollution.
Iron oxidation (rust), a byproduct of oxygen air pollution.

Cost of Corrision

Report FHWA-RD-01-156
Report FHWA-RD-01-156

Formation of Carbon Dioxide

Carbon is a highly stable element that exists in several different forms such as graphite, diamond, and coal. All three forms are extremely beneficial to modern society for a wide variety of applications. Unfortunately, carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide has been classified as a pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration. The EPA used the 1990 Clean Air Act to reach their conclusion. Declaring carbon dioxide emissions as an air pollutant will increase costs to businesses such as manufacturing plants and power generating companies that burn coal.These costs will be passed on to customers, thereby causing inflation and higher prices for all strata of society. The poorest members of society will be affected the most.

One carbon dioxide molecule contains two oxygen atoms and only one carbon atom. Carbon has atomic number 6. Oxygen has atomic number 8.

72% of carbon dioxide by weight is oxygen.
Report #: DOE/EIA-0573(2007) Released Date: December 2008 Next Release Date: November 2009 Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United States 2007
Report #: DOE/EIA-0573(2007) Released Date: December 2008 Next Release Date: November 2009 Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the United States 2007

Oxygen can be extremely flammable

Dangers of Home Use Oxygen

According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated average of 1,190 thermal burns per year caused by ignitions associated with home-use medical oxygen were recorded in hospital emergency rooms from 2003-2006.

Oxygen-related burns at emergency rooms.
Oxygen-related burns at emergency rooms.


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    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Robert Kernodle: Indeed, water is at least as dangerous as O2.

    • Robert Kernodle profile image

      Robert Kernodle 6 years ago

      ... which goes to show that ANY substance in the right proportion is eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil.

      Parady though it might be, your article smacks of a subtle truth that some people can twist waaaaaay out of proportion to fit their pet fears.

      Let us NOT forget the evil H2O that has killed so many innocent humans, including Alaskan crab fishermen, and flood victims swept away by its destructive flowing forces in large masses. How many poor surfers have died in the oceans of the world, because of this life-taking liquid monster?


    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 8 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      Hey, this is really very funny (in an amusing sort fo way, I mean!)! Great parody here, and as we all know, too much oxygen makes one keep breathing, which is the cause of people remaining alive, which is the main cause of all our troubles! If we all just held our breath for about 20 minutes, we'd end war, starvation and poverty, too!

      Great way of making your point, too, and I really do mean that. I love a good come-back to any argument or idea! Keep writing and have fun!


      Chef Jeff

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @William R. Wilson : I have more credibility than Wikipedia

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Tom Whitworth: I agree. We need a nitrogen czar.

    • William R. Wilson profile image

      William R. Wilson 8 years ago from Knoxville, TN

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      You make a very convincing point. There is no doubt oxygen must be regulated. I also think nitrogen is very hazzardous, it gives you the bends, if disolved in your blood.(8(