Q:

What is the importance of pH?

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Quick Answer

PH is critical to the maintenance of human life and affects everything from the fertility of soils to the health of marine life. All solutions have a pH value.

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Full Answer

Solutions are considered acidic, neutral or basic according to their pH value.

  • Below 4 is acidic
  • 7 is perfectly neutral, with distilled water being an example
  • Above 11 is basic.

Human blood has a pH of between 7.3 to 7.5, which is slightly on the basic side of the scale. If blood pH drops below 7.0 or goes higher than 7.8 the body can no longer function and dies.

There are many other everyday implications to pH values.

  • Acidic soils must often be treated with lime, which is an alkaline substance,to neutralize the pH before planting. The pH will determine what type of plant will grow and thrive in the soil.
  • In a marine environment, including an indoor aquarium, a basic pH of 8.1 to 8.4 makes it easier for fish to maintain their own cleanliness and resist illness. It has a slight antiseptic effect.

pH describes the balance between hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions. Ions are charged atoms, meaning they have either a negative or positive charge as a result of losing or gaining an electron. Hydrogen ions carry a positive charge while hydroxide atoms carry a negative charge. In a neutral solution the two are evenly balanced.

Learn more about Acids & Bases

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