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Many phosphorus-containing washing powders cause pollution. In this, 'phosphorus'...

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pokepal101 | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted July 24, 2013 at 11:13 AM via web

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Many phosphorus-containing washing powders cause pollution. In this, 'phosphorus' refers to:

A. element

B. atom

C. ion

D. molecule

Answer is A. Why not B? Surely, a phosphorus-containg washing powder cannot contain phosphorus 'elements' without containg phosphorus atoms also?

Tagged with chemistry, science

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trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted July 24, 2013 at 12:03 PM (Answer #1)

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Phosphorus is an element as found in the periodic table. However, it contains atoms as does all matter. However, if we are mentioning phosphorus in a detergent, then we mean the element phosphorus. If the question referred to it as phosphate, that would have meant it was a compound containing the element phosphorus. This is an essential element for plants to carry out photosynthesis and for animals to form bones and teeth, along with the element calcium. Unfortunately, when detergents contain phosphorus and it pollutes a body of water, the algae can bloom causing poor water quality and when it dies off, the fish are starved of oxygen due to bacterial decomposition. Phosphorus is found in soil and rock and is mined in the U.S. and in China.

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