5A: The Nitrogen Group

Group 5A
The Nitrogen Group is a very interesting group of elements. All of these elements have five valence electrons and are different from each other physically and chemically. Within this group, there are two nonmetals, Nitrogen and Phosphorus, two metalloids, Arsenic and Antimony, and one metal, Bismuth. Bismuth can lose three electrons while nitrogen can gain three. When changing from a liquid to a solid, antimony and bismuth expand in their form and phosphorus has three solid allotropes. 

Nitrogen can form some of the most explosive compounds, and yet we take in nitrogen every time we breathe. This incredible gas covers about seventy-eight percent of the Earth's atmosphere. Nitrogen gas has no smell or specific color and doesn't really have any reactions, however when in the form of trinitrotoluene (TNT) or nitroglycerin these compounds are very unstable. Nitrogen is found in some Proteins, and organic compounds, but many organisms can not take advantage of the plentiful supply of nitrogen found in the air. There are a few bacteria in plants that change molecular nitrogen into nitrogen compounds. Here are a few things nitrogen is found in, besides the air:
  • Ammonia
  • Explosives
  • Dyes

Ammonia: The amazing liquid

Phosphorus has three solid allotropes, white phosphorus, red phosphorus, and black phosphorus. White phosphorus is very reactive and must be stored in water, otherwise it will burst into flames reacting with the air. White phosphorus forms red phosphorus when it is heated in the absence of air. Black phosphorus is made when white or red phosphorus is heated under extreme pressure. Plants need phosphorus for growing, so fertilizers usually contain some amount of phosphorus. Although, using these fertilizers can be harmful to the environment, even laundry detergents sold in the United States can not contain phosphorus or phosphate compounds. Phosphoric acid is made from phosphorus, and then is converted into phosphate compounds. Some uses for these phosphoric compounds are:
  • Laxatives 
  • Baking powders
  • Processed cheese
  • Flame-retardant coating for fabrics 
Arsenic, Antimony, and Bismuth
Although there is more nitrogen and phosphorus in the world, these three elements are some of the oldest known to us. Arsenic, which is toxic, has been used for centuries, by physicians, in small amounts to help cure some illnesses. There are many other uses for the other group 5A elements include:
  • Make-up (Antimony)


  • Different types of metals
  • Lead storage batteries (Antimony)
  • Pepto Bismo (Bismuth)
  • Sprinkler systems

Noah S.