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Acid-Base Equilibria

Acids and bases are important in numerous chemical processes that occur around us, from industrial processes to biological ones, from reactions in the laboratory to those in our environment. The time required for a metal object immersed in water to corrode, the ability of an aquatic environment to support fish and plant life, the fate of pollutants washed out of the air by rain, and even the rates of reactions that maintain our lives all critically depend upon the acidity or basicity of solutions. Indeed, an enormous amount of chemistry can be understood in terms of acid-base reactions.

We have encountered acids and bases many times in earlier discussions. For example, a portion of Chapter 4 focused on their reactions. But what makes a substance behave as an acid or as a base? In this chapter we reexamine acids and bases, taking a closer look at how they are identified and characterized. In doing so, we will consider their behavior not only in terms of their structure and bonding but also in terms of the chemical equilibria in which they participate.

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