Q:

Where does gas exchange in the lungs occur?

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Quick Answer

Gas exchange occurs in the alveoli of the lungs, as well as in the capillaries that surround the alveoli, explains Teach PE. The exchange of gases in these two regions occurs through the process of diffusion, whereby oxygen and carbon dioxide move from higher-concentration areas to lower-concentration areas.

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When an individual inhales oxygen from the environment, the oxygen enters the alveoli, causing the air in the alveoli to have a higher concentration of oxygen molecules than the air in the capillaries, notes Teach PE. Conversely, the air inside of the capillaries has a higher concentration of carbon dioxide molecules than the air inside of the alveoli following an inhalation. Via diffusion, some of the oxygen in the alveoli moves into the capillaries, while some of the carbon dioxide in the capillaries moves into the alveoli. Through the capillaries, the oxygen enters the person's bloodstream, explains WebMD. When the individual exhales, the carbon dioxide is released from the alveoli and into the environment.

Air breathed in from the environment comprises about 21 percent of oxygen and 0.04 percent carbon dioxide. The air a person exhales back into the environment is about 17 percent oxygen and 3 percent carbon dioxide, indicating that the oxygen content decreases while the dioxide content increases. This is because the body uses oxygen to create energy, while carbon dioxide is a waste product of the energy-creation process, notes Teach PE.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Where does gas exchange take place?

    A:

    In the respiratory tract, gas exchange takes place in the alveoli of both of the lungs. The alveoli are small sacs of air that are covered in a material known as surfactant. This substance allows the alveoli to expand and contract during inhalation and exhalation.

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  • Q:

    What is the main function of the alveoli?

    A:

    The main function of the alveoli is the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen in the lungs. Alveoli are small air sacs of the respiratory system. For this gas exchange to occur, air must travel through different parts of the respiratory system.

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  • Q:

    Explain the process of gas exchange in the lungs?

    A:

    Gas exchange in the lungs allows oxygen to diffuse through the small air sacks or alveoli at the end of one's bronchial tubes into the blood, and it allows carbon dioxide to move from the blood into the alveoli to allow the individual to expel the waste. Fresh oxygen comes into the lungs when one inhales and is removed upon exhaling, according to WebMD.

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  • Q:

    How does oxygen pass into the capillaries?

    A:

    Oxygen passes into the capillaries through the air sac walls from the air that a person breathes. While this is taking place, carbon dioxide will move from the capillaries to the air sacs, and this process is known as the gas exchange.

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