Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a chemical element with symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidised state, as inorganic phosphate rocks. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms—white phosphorus and red phosphorus—but due to its high reactivity, phosphorus is never found as a free element on Earth.

The first form of elemental phosphorus to be produced (white phosphorus, in 1669) emits a faint glow upon exposure to oxygen – hence its name given from Greek mythology, Φωσφόρος meaning "light-bearer" (Latin Lucifer), referring to the "Morning Star", the planet Venus. The term "phosphorescence", meaning glow after illumination, originally derives from this property of phosphorus, although this word has since been used for a different physical process that produces a glow. The glow of phosphorus itself originates from oxidation of the white (but not red) phosphorus— a process now termed chemiluminescence.

The vast majority of phosphorus compounds are consumed as fertilisers. Other applications include the role of organophosphorus compounds in detergents, pesticides and nerve agents, and matches.

Phosphorus is essential for life. As phosphate, it is a component of DNA, RNA, ATP, and also the phospholipids that form all cell membranes. Demonstrating the link between phosphorus and life, elemental phosphorus was historically first isolated from human urine, and bone ash was an important early phosphate source. Phosphate minerals are fossils. Low phosphate levels are an important limit to growth in some aquatic systems. The chief commercial use of phosphorus compounds for production of fertilisers is due to the need to replace the phosphorus that plants remove from the soil.

Read more about Phosphorus:  Production, Spelling and Etymology, History and Discovery, Biological Role, Precautions

Other articles related to "phosphorus":

Långsjön - Catchment Area - Environmental Influence
... in Stockholm where spillway overflow adds appreciable amounts of phosphorus ... Surface runoff adds some 70 kg of phosphorus and 1,000 kg of nitrogen annually and more than half of phosphorus added through surface water is produced by the ...
Methylidynephosphane
... was the first phosphaalkyne compound discovered, containing the unusual C≡P carbon-phosphorus triple bond ... It is thus the phosphorus analogue of hydrogen cyanide, with the nitrile nitrogen replaced by phosphorus ...
Phosphorus - Precautions - US DEA List I Status
... Phosphorus can reduce elemental iodine to hydroiodic acid, which is a reagent effective for reducing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine ... For this reason, red and white phosphorus were designated by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration as List I precursor chemicals under 21 CFR 1310.02 effective on ... in the United States, handlers of red or white phosphorus are subject to stringent regulatory controls ...
Sustainability Measurement - Hubbert Peaks - Phosphorus
... Phosphorus supplies are essential to farming and depletion of reserves is estimated at somewhere from 60 to 130 years ... Phosphorus supplies affect total agricultural output which in turn limits alternative fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol ...
Lake Cascade - Water Quality
... lake experienced a bloom of blue-green algae in 1993 caused by low water, high phosphorus content, and hot weather ... Studies of water quality found phosphorus to be present in high levels which contributed to the algal bloom ... water quality was monitored and an improvement plan was implemented to lower the phosphorus by 37 percent ...