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why do we breathe oxygen and not nitrogen

Asked by: Jane Hawke, Bournemouth
Our blood has evolved to capture the oxygen we breathe in and bind it safely to the transport molecule called haemoglobin. If you breathe air with a much higher than normal O2 concentration, the oxygen in the lungs overwhelms the blood's ability to carry it away. The result is that free oxygen binds to the surface proteins of the lungs, interferes with the operation of the central nervous system and also attacks the retina.

Contrary to popular myth, hyperventilating air at ordinary pressures never causes oxygen toxicity (the dizziness is due to CO2 levels dropping too low), but breathing oxygen at pressures of 0. 5 bar or more (roughly two and a half times normal) for more than 16 hours can lead to irreversible lung damage and, eventually, death. Subscribe to for fascinating new Q As every month and follow on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.

Animals receive the nitrogen that they need from the consumption of plants. When plants, animals, and other organisms die, decomposers return nitrogen to the soil. What effect do humans have on the nitrogen cycle? As mentioned above, humans use fertilizers on plants to get them to grow better; and nitrogen is a major component of most fertilizers.

Is this a concern? It can be. Nitrogen additions, in excessive amounts, pollute our ecosystems. This can change the functioning of the ecosystem, and the communities that are supported by it. O). This gas is a strong greenhouse gas. (It is also used to make trips to your local dentist less stressful. ) The amount of nitrogen that is transported in rivers and groundwater has increased.

This can accumulate in the final destination and can lead to eutrophication of lakes, which basically kills most of the wildlife living there. Other changes we have made in the natural nitrogen cycle might include an increased loss of biodiversity, especially with plants that have adapted to the low levels of nitrogen in the soil. This also affects the animals and microbes that depend on this vegetation.

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