The chemistry of breathing
The chemical process of breathing
4 important elements are involved in our breathing
Oxygen – O
Hydrogen – H
Nitrogen – N
Carbon – C
The purpose of breathing is to supply oxygen to the body, which is needed to generate energy.
The air we inhale is about 80% nitrogen (N) and 20% oxygen (O). Once air gets into the lungs, part of the oxygen (O) is exchanged with carbon dioxide (CO2) from the bloodstream using tiny air sacs that function as exchange chambers. The air we exhale is about ~ 80% (N) 16% oxygen (O2) and 4% carbon dioxide (CO2).
Trees and plants “inhale” carbon dioxide (CO2). They use the carbon (C) to build themselves and grow. Plants “drink” water (H2O) via their roots. Using “solar panels” – their leaves, plants collect energy, mainly from the sun and use this energy to break down CO2 and H2O. Plants “exhale” oxygen (O2) and build themselves with carbohydrates (C-H-O).
The carbohydrates that we eat, are compounds made from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (C-H-O). When the oxygen (O2) we breath reacts with the hydrogen (H) of the carbohydrates, needed energy is released in our body and one of the byproducts of this reaction, is carbon dioxide (CO2) which is expelled when we exhale.
An important compound in the process of breathing is nitric oxide (NO). It is generated in the sinuses and is added to the air that we inhale before going into the lungs. Nitric oxide (NO) is an additive that functions as a sterilizer and also allows better absorption of the oxygen in the lungs.