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The transport of oxygen from air in the alveoli of the lungs to the cytoplasm of respiring muscle cells.

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  • Essay length: 748 words
  • Submitted: 09/02/2004
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GCSE Humans as Organisms

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Biology Synoptic Essay

The transport of oxygen from air in the alveoli of the lungs to the cytoplasm of respiring muscle cells

Alveoli are the gas exchange sites of the body; one of the gases, oxygen, enters the body via the mouth and nostrils.

Breathing involves the increase and decrease of air pressure in the lungs, which is relative to that of the air. A fall in air pressure in the lungs causes breathing in (inspiration), and a rise in pressure in the lungs causes breathing out (expiration).

Because of the thorax volume increasing (therefore air pressure inside thorax is below atmospheric pressure), air flows in, down the trachea and into the alveoli.

Once in the alveoli, the oxygen dissolves, because of the moist wall lining, and then diffuses across the wall and into the blood stream. For this to be efficient there must be rapid diffusion, which is maintained by Fick's Law. There must be a large surface area and difference in concentration and a small diffusion pathway (thickness of membrane(s))

Fick's Law = Surface area x difference in concentration

Thickness of membrane(s)

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