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Question

While sulphur dioxide and hydrogen peroxide can act as oxidising as well as reducing agents in their reactions, ozone and nitric acid act only as oxidants. Why ?

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Solution


The S atom in SO2 has +4 oxidation number. The minimum and maximum oxidation numbers of S are -2 and +6 respectively. Hence, in SO2, S can increase and decrease its oxidation number. Hence, SO2 is an oxidizing agent as well as reducing agent.
The O atom in hydrogen peroxide has oxidation number of -1. The minimum and maximum oxidation numbers of O are -2 and 0 respectively. Hence, hydrogen peroxide is oxidant as well as reluctant.
In ozone, O atom has oxidation number of 0. It can decrease its oxidation number to -1 or -2 but cannot increase it. Hence ozone is an oxidizing agent.
In nitric acid, N has oxidation number of +5 which is maximum. N can only decrease its oxidation number. Hence, nitric acid is an oxidizing agent.

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