• Question: can you breath in carbon dioxide

    Asked by abiola to Angela, Karen, Shane on 21 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Karen McCarthy

      Karen McCarthy answered on 21 Nov 2013:

      Good question abiola – Carbon dioxide is non-toxic at ordinary levels – ie the normal levels to which we are exposed on a daily basis. Carbon dioxide is in the air around us, and also in many of our foods – its what makes fizzy drinks fizzy!

      However if you are in a room or environment where there is a lot of carbon dioxide, that begins to become dangerous. Breathing in too much carbon dioxide upsets the balance of oxygen in your body, and can cause increased breathing and heart rate, as your body tries to get more oxygen.

      Treatment for breathing in too much carbon dioxide can be as simple as breathing in clean, fresh air, but you should always see a doctor to be safe!

    • Photo: Angela Stevenson

      Angela Stevenson answered on 21 Nov 2013:

      Hi Abiola! Great question again! You re actually exposed to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and it’s actually one of the important gases that remind your body to breathe. Our respiratory system exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide – that’s the main function of our respiratory system. Carbon dioxide enters the body through the air we breathe, enters the blood, which is pumped through the pulmonary artery into the lungs, the blood releases its carbon dioxide contents into the lungs. It’s the primary gas that is exhaled when you breathe out (about 0.3 liter of carbon dioxide is transferred out of the blood each minute!). So, at normal levels carbon dioxide is non-toxic, but if you inhale too much of it, you could get carbon dioxide poisoning through asphyxiation (lack of oxygen), because increased levels of carbon dioxide may be related to decreased concentration of oxygen, which you need in order to live. Hope that helps 🙂

    • Photo: Shane Mc Guinness

      Shane Mc Guinness answered on 21 Nov 2013:

      You know what? You actually can! Because it carbon “DI”oxide, meaning there are two oxygen atoms connected to one carbon atom. So when you breathe in carbon dioxide , your body can actually take in some oxygen from this. However, this then converts this to carbon monoxide (one oxygen atom) which our bodies can’t remove at all, so you’d suffocate pretty quickly that way.
      Did you also know that you can die from breathing pure oxygen. This is known as oxygne toxicity, and can cause some serious damage to your body! Goes to show how exact life is on our planet!