Rail Car Number Four

By: Michela Johnson P.7

Given Information

Chemical Atoms: 1C, 2O, "many" H's

Geometry: Bent and Trigonal Planar

Pi and Sigma: 1pi, many sigma

Polarity: Polar

IMF's: H-Bonding

Finding the Correct Molecule

We already know that the molecule contains 1C, 2O, and lots of H's. But that alone cannot find the precise formula of the chemical. I know that the geometry is bent and trigonal planar, so when using the molecule sets I was able to put together a bent geometry and a trigonal planar. Once again, that's still not enough information to fulfill the needed requirements. But sense it has one pi bond and the rest are sigma, I can figure out the molecule. Carbon would share a double bond with an Oxygen, the other oxygen would connect to the Carbon. The remaining two spaces would contain Hydrogen (As shown below). I double checked to make sure it was the right molecule by checking its polarity, (Polar) and its IMF (H-Bonding). By using the process of reasoning and elimination I ruled out the correct Molecule.

The Statitics of the Chemical

Name: Formic Acid/ Carbon dihydrogen dioxide
Formula: CH2O2

Is it harmful to humans?
This chemical is often used in foods so its not very toxic. But if exposed for a extensive amount of time kidney damage can occur. The primary danger is exposure of the gas/liquid on the eyes or skin. This is a very corrosive acid so making contact without protection is not a very good idea.
Is it harmful to animals?
If the Formic Acid got leaked into a water source it could be catastrophic. Not only does it irritate skin but exposure to the Acid would hurt animals and the surrounding environment. Depending on how large the spill was it would wipe out the part of the ecosystem.

How would I Clean it up?

It kinda depends on what it was spilled on. But if I had to pick a method I would try to use materials to absorb it. First I would try to neutralize the acid with a base so it wont be as corrosive. Then I would use highly absorbent materials (ex: Kitty Litter) to attempt to remove most of the acid. Once the acid is removed I would make sure that the hazardous material would be disposed of properly. Aka have the hazardous waste company make sure its properly contained.

What is it used for?

Formic Acid is commonly used in small amounts in food. It acts as a serializer and a preservative. It is also used in the leather tanning process. One of its main uses is in cleaners, it is used in place of some different acids in cleaning products. Although its hazardous to our health it has many uses in the industry. Compared to other substitutes Formic Acid seems to be easier to obtain and possibly cheaper. Therefor the transportation of Formic Acid is still in high demand.


1) WCO’s: Evaluate evidence to create conclusions.

2) 21st: Use models to solve problems.


-Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formic_acid>.
-"Formic Acid." N.p., n.d. Web. <http://hubpages.com/education/Formic-Acid-Dangers-and-Uses-in-Nature-and-in-Humans>.
-"Environmental Health and Safety." Spill Response Guide: Corrosive Acids. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2016. <http://ehs.research.uiowa.edu/spill-response-guide-corrosive-acids>.