A chemical is a substance made up of atoms
that are bonded together. Atoms are the
elements on the periodic table, for example
carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and iron.
There are 118 elements currently known. When
elements bond, they join together and make a
molecule. Chemicals are groups of molecules,
and can be solid, liquids, or gases. Everything
around you is made up of chemicals. Some chemicals
you are pretty familiar with--water is chemical!
One molecule of water is made of two hydrogen
atoms and one oxygen atom, so we give it the
chemical formula H2O. The air you
breathe is made up a chemicals like nitrogen,
N2, and oxygen, O2. You need
that oxygen in the air to survive!
Chemicals form both naturally and man-made. If
you eat a plant like wheat or spinach, you're
eating a whole bunch of complicated chemicals like
carbohydrates and proteins that the plant made
from sunlight, and other chemicals like carbon
dioxide from the air. Your body uses the chemicals
in food as fuel! Lots of man-made things are made
from chemicals too, like plastic and clothes.
While some chemicals can be bad for you, chemicals
are all around you and are a part of your daily
life, even if you don't realize it.
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