Oxygen is required for cell metabolism. During inhalation air is brought into the lungs, where oxygen is extracted. Oxygen passes into the bloodstream at the membrane between the alveoli and pulmonary capillaries. The quantity of oxygen extracted from the air is dependent on the composition of the air and on the efficiency of the lungs. The percent concentration of oxygen in air on earth is almost uniformly 21% between sea level and the stratosphere. At sea level the density of the air (molecules/unit volume) is greater than it is at higher altitudes, allowing a greater number of molecules to be inhaled with each breath.
In this experiment, you will observe the quantity of oxygen that is absorbed from inhaled air by measuring the concentration of oxygen remaining in exhaled air. Successive breaths will further lower the oxygen concentration, allowing you to observe the efficiency of oxygen extraction by the lungs at lower oxygen concentrations.
In this experiment, you will
- Measure the concentration of exhaled oxygen.
- Observe the efficiency of oxygen extraction by the lungs as the inhaled oxygen concentration is reduced.