Phosphorus: biological information
Phosphorus is a key component of biological molecules such as DNA and RNA. Phosphorus is a component of bones, and teeth, and many other compounds required for life. Chronic poisoning of people working unprotected with white phosphorus leads to necrosis of the jaw ("phossy-jaw").
Levels in humans
- Human abundance by weight: 11000000 ppb by weight
- Human abundance by atoms: 2200000 atoms relative to C = 1000000
How much phosphorus is in your body? Find out here.
You can use this form to calculate how much phosphorus 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 phosphorus:
Elemental phosphorus is severely toxic, the white form more so than the red form. Chronic poisoning of those working unprotected with white phosphorus leads to necrosis of the jaw ("phossy-jaw"). Phosphate esters are nerve poisons and should only be handled by a competent chemist. Inorganic phosphate are relatively harmless. Phosphate pollution occurs as a result of leached fertilisers and from many detergents.
- 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.