Introduction To ChemistryWhen
you were in primary school, you used to learn science as a single
subject. At this level of study, the subject will be broken up into
three related subjects, namely Chemistry, Biology and Physics. The three
subjects are closely related. You will require the knowledge of one
subject to study the other. For example, you will apply the knowledge of
chemistry to study different chemical reactions that take place in the
body for studying biology of the human body, etc. Likewise as a
biologist, you will need the knowledge of physics to study movements of
different limbs of the body, etc. Therefore, these few examples show how
the three subjects are interdependent. Chemistry is usually studied
along with other related subjects such as biology, physics, earth
sciences and mathematics. A person studying science is called a scientist. A scientist specialized in the study of chemistry is called a chemist.The Concept of ChemistryExplain the concept of ChemistryChemistry
is a branch of science that deals with the study of nature, properties
and composition of matter. Matter can be defined as anything that has
weight or mass and can occupy space. Therefore, in chemistry we study
materials that make up the earth and universe. These range from living
to non-living materials. We apply the knowledge of chemistry to study
the composition, behaviour and nature of materials around us. This study
enables us to make the best use of these materials to improve our
welfare.Materials Objects Made by Application of ChemistryMention materials objects made by application of chemistryChemistry
is such an important subject that it is applied in other fields such as
agriculture, manufacturing, medicine, processing and food industries,
education, cosmetics and home care industries, etc. All these industries
are responsible for the production of materials that we need to support
and hence improve our lives. Materials made by the application of
chemistry knowledge include soap, chalk, shoes, clothes, petroleum
products, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, drugs, and
many others. Can you mention some of the materials made by the
application of chemistry knowledge?This,
therefore, means that chemistry is applied in factories, homes,
hospitals, pharmacies, research centers, higher learning institutions,
products made by the application of chemistry in industry are all
around us. Some of these materials are summarized in the table:Some products made by application of chemistry

Field where appliedExamples of products
MedicineDrugs, vaccines, nutritional supplements
AgricultureAgro-chemicals ( fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, acaricides), animal drugs and vaccines, animal feed and supplements
Manufacturing industryVehicles, cement, plastics, chemicals, paints, iron sheets, vanishes, glue
Food and beverage industrySoft and alcoholic drinks, baked food, canned food, spices, cooking oil, salt
Home care and cosmetics industryCosmetics, detergents, toothpaste, shoe polish, insecticides, antiseptics, disinfectants
TransportFuels, lubricants, oil, grease, tar, coolants, tyres
Textile industryClothes, dyes, bleaches, wax, threads
Leather industryShoes, handbags, belts, leather articles

The importance of chemistry in lifeAreas Where Chemistry is AppliedMention areas where chemistry is appliedIn
everyday life, we need different substances to meet our basic human
needs like food, shelter, clothing, comfort and health. Application of
chemical knowledge enables the production of different materials and
products that we need to live better.Examples
of these materials, as mentioned early, are (paraffin), sugar, common
salt, soft drinks, medical drugs (medicines), toothpaste and plastics.
Others are spirits, wines, shoe polishes, cement, baking soda, petrol,
diesel and cosmetics (soaps, body oils and lotions, body and hair
creams, etc)All
these materials, among others, are made by applying chemical processes.
They are needed for a better living. Can you mention more materials
made through chemistry knowledge?Some materials made by application of chemistryNature
is made of materials that may be useless, less useful and even harmful.
There are also things that are very useful to our lives. Through
chemistry, we are able to transform (change) various materials
chemically or physically into forms or products that are more useful to
manFor example, most laboratory chemicals you use at school are prepared from minerals that are mined from the rocks in the earth.Laboratory chemicalsMan
cannot use most substances unless they are transformed into products
that are more useful. Limestone lying idle in earth is useless until it
undergoes deliberate physical and compositional transformation into
cement. The cement is used for construction of buildings, roads, bridges
and many different structures.We
also need to change different mineral ores through a number of
processes into useful substances such as steel, aluminium, tin, etc. Man
has learned how to change harmful substances into useful products since
the long ago.Common salt may be made from twohazardous substanceshydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide.Chemistry
is all around us. We often use chemical products and engage ourselves
in chemical processes more than we can tell. Look at the picture below.This is an example of a chemical activity in which we can engage ourselves without knowing.A woman washing clothesMany
items we use at school, home and industry are made by applying chemical
processes. The soap we use to wash our clothes and clean our bodies is
made from animal fat and an alkali. Many items are made from plastic.
Many kinds of plastics are made from crude oil. What items are made from
plastics in your home? Soft drink bottles are made from glass. The
major component of glass is sand. Glass is made by mixing sand with
metal oxides in a furnace at high temperatures. Some clothing is made
from natural fibers such as cotton or silk.Other fabrics like polyester and nylon are made from chemicals found in coal and crude oil. What are your clothes made of?Clothes made from cotton fibresMan
has used medicines extracted from plants and animals since the
beginning of time. For example, cinchona tree contains quinine, which
has a bitter taste. Quinine was and is still used for treatment of
malaria. Penicillin is extracted from a fungus called penicillin.
Nowadays, it is possible to make chemicals that have the same effects as
naturally occurring drugs.This
forms the basis of the pharmaceutical drugs industry. What medicines
extracted from plants and animals are used in your school or local
dispensary?Injection drugs and vaccines are made from plant or animal extractsApart
from clothing, it is a tradition to put on shoes and other attire.
Rubber shoes are made from rubber. Rubber is a sticky milky fluid
obtained from certain tropical trees. Skin shoes and handbags are made
from skins and hides of animals. The process of converting these raw
materials into the items mentioned above involves chemistry knowledge.What other items made by chemical processes do you know?Skin shoesSustainable
crop and animal production is also enhanced by application of chemistry
knowledge. The use of chemicals in agriculture is inevitable.
Fertilizers, insecticides, acaricides, herbicides (weed killers) have
and are still playing a good role in agricultural and animal production.
In some ecological zones, in order to get good harvest, fertilizer,
herbicide and insecticide application is necessary. The same case
applies to animal production. As regards to control and prevention of
tick-borne diseases, application of different acaricides is often
stressed. Also is the use of different drugs to treat internal parasites
such as worms, and vaccines to prevent certain diseases.The Importance of Chemistry in Daily LifeState the importance of Chemistry in daily lifeThere
are a number of reasons for studying chemistry. If you ask someone to
tell you the reason for studying chemistry, he/she will give reasons
based on how the subject touches him/her. However, there are general and
universal reasons as to why we should devote our valuable time and
energy to the study of chemistry. In general, we study chemistry because
it helps as to understand:

  • the composition of materials around us;
  • the nature, properties and behaviour of these materials;
  • why and how materials behave as they do;
  • how a new material, based on the known properties of its allies or counterparts might behave;
  • how to make new materials which will be useful to us; and
  • how to extract and use materials from the earth to improve our welfare.

In economic and occupational terms, we can say that the knowledge of chemistry helps us:

  • to produce professionals in different disciplines such as pharmacy, engineering, medical and natural science professions; and
  • make
    items, goods and materials for sale such as chemical laboratory
    equipments and reagents, medicines, rubber, cement, paints, steel,
    plastics, etc. What other materials do you think can be included in the

we can summarize that the study of chemistry is important for survival,
development and welfare of man as well as sustainable production of
crops and animals.


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