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The non-metals are a group of seven elements that can't conduct electricity, are hard to heat, break easily, can't be molded or formed, have no metallic luster (shine), and don't reflect light. (Metals, on the other hand do conduct electricity and heat up, are malleable (workable) and hold their shape when formed into wire, sheets, or cast items, have varying degrees of luster [shine], and reflect light.) All non-metals can be combined with other elements to make a wide variety of useful compounds and molecules.
At room temperature, some of these non-metals are inert gases and some are solids. The inert gases are hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. The solids are carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, and selenium.
This group of elements can be found everywhere-in the air we breathe, in the ground we walk on, in the food we eat, etc. The inert gases make up our atmosphere and are essential to sustain life on earth. Hydrogen and oxygen atoms bond together to make water molecules, and nitrogen in the soil helps plants grow. The four solid non-metals are all essential elements for absorption into living organisms (plant and animal), as well as important ingredients for industrial use.
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