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Thread: Do our lungs extract more oxygen from cool air?

  1. #1 Do our lungs extract more oxygen from cool air? 
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    Since the air particles are closer together, I assume there is more oxygen per given volume of air. So do our lungs receive more oxygen from cooler air? I have a theory that that is why people get that "europhoric" feeling in Autumn when the temperature drops...more inhaled oxygen.


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  3. #2 Re: Do our lungs extract more oxygen from cool air? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by kinyo77
    Since the air particles are closer together, I assume there is more oxygen per given volume of air. So do our lungs receive more oxygen from cooler air? I have a theory that that is why people get that "europhoric" feeling in Autumn when the temperature drops...more inhaled oxygen.
    Hemoglobin binds oxygen worse when the temperature is lower, which would counteract that somewhat. No idea which effect would win out. I suspect both effects would be so small that they wouldn't really matter though.


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    Lower temperature would mean lower kinetic energy, so the rate at which the oxygen diffuses into capillaries would be reduced as well.

    It might be interesting to look at performance of endurance athletes at different lattitudes to see if there is a significant difference? Although we would have to account for the differences in aerodynamic drag I suppose, so we would need to know the exact pressure at the time of the events in question... I might look this up some time.

    My instinct would be, though, that because of our roughly-constant body temperature, air in the alveoli and oxygen in the blood would heat up quickly enough that there's no real difference.
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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    By the time it gets to your lungs, it's pretty much warmed up to body temperature I'd think.
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    another speculation I am afraid - since cold air holds less water than hot the air you breathe in would still contain more air (and therefore oxygen), this would change at altitude of course......

    would this question not be better in biology?
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    It's not any particular science any more than it is any other really, it's a series of biochemical and physical equilibria, and the only way to realistically and accurately answer it would be to test it.
    "The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair." ~ Douglas Adams
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  8. #7  
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    Cold water contains more oxygen than warm water because it is more soluble. But I agree with Harold.
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    Forum Freshman Samuel P's Avatar
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    I would think that in colder temperatures you extract less oxygen from the air, not just because of reduced cellular activity and less kinetic energy, but because there is less water in the air.

    Does the moisture not provide a good surface for diffusion on the alveoli?
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel P
    I would think that in colder temperatures you extract less oxygen from the air, not just because of reduced cellular activity and less kinetic energy,
    I think you have to be pretty cold in order to slow your metabolism to such an extent.
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