Anda di halaman 1dari 1

Karyn Stolz

BIO-130 Section E2

pH Scale

Understanding the pH scale is based on how acidic or basic a solution is. A pH


scale measures the concentration of H+ and OH-. The pH of a solution is defined as a
negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration and the pH scale measures this and
places a value on it ranging 0 to 14.

The 0 end of the pH scale is where the concentration is increasingly acidic.


Moving up around 2 is lemon juice and stomach juices. Then around 3 are vinegar, beer
and cola. Next at 4 is tomato juice. Then at 5 is black coffee and rainwater. Followed
by urine at 6. Pure water and human blood are at 7. After 7 the concentration starts to
become more basic as it heads up the scale. Most biological fluids are between pH 6 and
pH 8. Then between 8 and 9 is seawater. Then at 10 is milk of magnesia. Followed by
household ammonia at 11, and household bleach at 12. Then between 13 and 14 is oven
cleaner. Products at the two extremes are extremely oppressive and corrosive. Examples
of this include, sulfuric and hydrochloric acid that are at the acid end, and caustic soda at
the alkaline end. The use solutions of phosphoric or sulfamic acid cleaners, typically are
in the pH range of slightly less than 2 and are described as “safe” acids in comparison to
the stronger acids.

The internal pH of most living cells is close to 7. When there is even a slight
change in the pH, this can be extremely harmful. It is harmful because the chemical
processes of the cell are sensitive to the concentration of hydrogen and hydroxide ions.
Biological fluids can resist change to their own pH when acids and bases are introduced
because the presence of buffers. Buffers in the human blood for example maintain the
blood pH very close to 7.4. A person cannot survive if the pH of their blood drops to 7 or
rises to 7.8. Under normal circumstances the buffering capacity of the blood prevents
such swings in the pH level.

An acid adds hydrogen ions to a solution, but it also removes hydroxide ions
because of the tendency of H+ combine with OH- to form water. The base has the
opposite effect with an increasing OH- concentration but reducing the H+ concentration
by the formation of water. Each pH unit represents a tenfold difference of the H+ and
OH- concentration. It is this mathematical feature that makes the pH scale so compact.
For example a solution of pH 2 is not twice as acidic as a solution of pH 4, but a hundred
times more acidic. So when the pH of the solution changes slightly, it actually changes
the concentration of H+ and OH- substantially.