It is important to understand the difference between chemicals and petrochemicals. By doing so, we will be able to better understand what chemicals in use today are capable of and how these chemicals impact our lives. Simply put, chemicals are materials that can change from their state of being non-active (in a state where they are neither soluble nor immaterial) to being actively soluble or immaterial. In other words, chemicals are either solid or liquid. There is also a great variety between different chemical mixtures or properties.
A chemical by definition is anything consisting of a solid or semi-solid matter; this normally includes gases, solids, and liquids. However, chemicals can also consist of a combination of materials, whether a solid and liquid combination or purely a gas or vapor. A chemical compound is any material composed of one or more chemical elements that can change form in reaction to external stimuli such as heat, pressure, and light. Exposure to chemical compounds, whether in the environment or to humans, can be either hazardous or potentially dangerous, depending upon the degree to which the substance is exposed.
In the past, many chemicals were developed through the processes of discovery and chemical synthesis. This often involved accidental discoveries and the resulting combustion of new chemical compounds in order to produce a completed product. Thus, the term ‘rewarding discovery’ refers to the process by which chemicals become useful when exposed to environmental conditions that create favorable circumstances for their transformation into useful products (or waste).
Chemical compounds can also be produced by humankind for purposes of sustenance. Plants produce food, including carbohydrates, proteins, fat, and vitamins, while animals to produce meat, eggs, fur, oil, and other products. Many chemicals have both biological and chemical properties, including antibiotics, antineoplastic drugs, pesticides, chlorine, Ethane gas, and liquid chlorination compounds. The way that these chemicals interact with living organisms, their toxicity to humans, and their effects on the environment all affect what the chemicals are used for, how they are disposed of, and whether or not they pose a risk to the public’s health or the environment. Additionally, the types of chemicals that humans produce and consume are categorized as synthetic chemicals, bio-chemicals, and hazardous substances.
Chemicals can be in a variety of states from being absolutely pure (i.e. water) to being mixed with other substances (including organic chemicals). In order for something to be considered as a chemical, it must undergo a series of complex chemical reactions in order to form one of dozens of different chemical compounds. If chemicals could be broken down into a pure state, then humans would have no need to use chemicals to assist them in day-to-day life. However, the reality of the chemical world is that some chemicals are more stable than others and will take a longer period of time to decompose in the environment. This means that we rely on chemicals in our lives in order to make these chemicals react in the proper ways.
The most commonly known example of a chemical substance that can be considered a pure substance is sodium chloride. Sodium chloride, which is also called salt, is used as a common household cleaner because it is widely accessible and widely understood as safe. On the other hand, there are countless examples of chemicals that humans and animals cannot see, touch, or taste, but that can cause major health problems when swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. A chemical substance may contain one or more hydrogen atoms, one or more oxygen atoms, a number of carbon atoms, or some other combination. A compound’s chemical makeup is determined by the elements that compose the atom and is dictated by the sequence of atomic elements. For example, the list of elements that make up carbon includes carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorous.