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Chemicals are everywhere. From the air we breathe to the things we use in day to day life, to the medicines we take. For those taking chemistry or a form of we also think of them as the “Long complicated words with multiple parts and syllables we have to use when there are much simpler terms that make life easier.” Or maybe that’s just me, who knows. Chemistry is quite fascinating regardless, especially one in particular: Acetylsalicylic Acid ( C9 H8O4). Or as we know it’s simpler name, Aspirin. See what I mean? Some quick facts to get the ball rolling on Acetylsalicylic Acid, also known as ASA, are just the basic traits. A solid at room temperature, ASA has a density of an estimated 1.4 g/cm cubed. Its melting point is 275 degrees Fahrenheit, coming to a boil at 284 degrees Fahrenheit. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) dubbed it 2-Acetoxybenzoic acid. As if the complicated name needed an even more complicated name; However, the information is valuable and interesting nonetheless, as well as being a fun way to show off and be a Steve Urkel. 2-Acetoxybenzoic acid has been around for centuries, dating back to Samaritans and Ancient Egypt, where people would take an extract from willow trees to treat physical ailments. Greek physicians of the A.D era Hippocrates and Galen also knew of this extract, but they were written over as time progressed. The modern story begins with Reverend Edward Stone from Chipping Norton, England. Around 1757, Stone came to a correct conclusion about the willow bark and its contents, but his reasoning was false. In the late 1890s, approximately 1897 after about a century of discovery and experimentation, Bayer’s Felix Hoffmann of Bayer, Germany develops and patents a process for synthesizing acetylsalicylic acid and clinical trials ensue. By 1899, the trials were proven a success and the aspirin we know today was manufactured and sent out worldwide, becoming the most popular drug fairly quickly.Aspirin has grown so much in popularity since then. About 35,000 metric tons of it is produced and consumed each year to meet the consumers’ demand. This amount is equivalent to a whopping 100 billion standard Aspirin tablets. Today, aspirin is known as the leading non-prescription medicine for pain, inflammation, and fever. But with good, comes bad. If abused, Aspirins can cause severe side effects, including: black, bloody, or tarry stools; coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; severe nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain and more. A common effect is hyperventilation,  which causes the consumers PCO2 levels to drop. The body will then try to compensate for this by excreting bicarbonate, which causes an increase in pH levels. If left untreated, it can lead to multiple severe ailments such as: seizures, shock, comas, hypotension decreased consciousness and more. Intense hospitalization could follow. If we abuse aspirin, it can abuse us, which is why we should follow the dosage as directed to us.What can abuse us, also can abuse the environment. With aspirin, studies are unclear as to the harm it causes; However, there are tests that show that urination and defecation of living things that had consumed the aspirin released the leftover chemicals into the soil and water around it. The effects are yet to be discovered. As an example, pharmaceuticals such as Ibuprofen and diclofenac have been found in ecosystems and affected major things of organisms around it, specifically their reproduction systems and organs. Aspirin is determined not to be that powerful but is still being tested. This was labeled a wonder drug upon its discovery. Starting from a herbal extract of the willow tree to the tablets and pills we see today, Aspirin has come a long way in its evolution. Millions of people use it every day to relieve physical ailments and discomforts, and thousands use it as a source of income. While it is treated correctly and with precaution, our health benefits from Acetylsalicylic Acid as far as our research shows. Later findings will expand on this drugs benefits and/or consequences, but for now, it is safe to say that that extract from the willow tree is truly a miracle in the finding.

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