Carbon: biological information
Carbon is key to life and by definition is present in all organic compounds. The study of life is known as biological chemistry or biochemistry. Ethene gas (C2H4) helps to ripen tomatoes.
Levels in humans
- Human abundance by weight: 230000000 ppb by weight
- Human abundance by atoms: 120000000 atoms relative to C = 1000000
How much carbon is in your body? Find out here.
You can use this form to calculate how much carbon your body contains. Enter your weight in either kilograms or pounds and click the "Calculate" button. You must enter a number, not text! Elements for which there are no data will always give a value of zero for the weight, no matter what you put in the weight box.
Hazards and Risks
Hazards and risks associated with carbon:
Carbon compounds show the full range of toxicities. Compounds such as CO (present in car exhausts) and CN- (cyanide, sometimes present in pollution from mining) are very toxic to mammals. Other carbon compounds are not toxic and indeed are required for life. Organic gases such as methane (CH4), ethene (CH2=CH2), and ethyne (HCCH) are dangerous as mixtures with air because of fire and explosion dangers.
- J.E. Huheey, E.A. Keiter, and R.L. Keiter in Inorganic Chemistry : Principles of Structure and Reactivity, 4th edition, HarperCollins, New York, USA, 1993.
- S. Budavari (Ed.) in The Merck Index, 11th ed., Merck, USA, 1989.
- N.N. Greenwood and A. Earnshaw in Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth, UK, 1997.