Gaseous exchange in the alveoli

Gaseous exchange in the alveoli:

Once the air is inside the lungs the procedure of gaseous exchange starts. Capillaries of the pulmonary artery stay close to the wall of the alveloli. This improves the exchange of gases.'



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                                                        Figure: Exchange of gases in the alveolus

Oxygen and carbon-dioxide are exchanged crossways the alveolar membrane by diffusion from the place of higher to low partial pressure until the partial pressure of the two areas are equivalent. This procedure is a simple physical one which does not include any secretary or active transport mechanism.

In atmospheric air there is a high concentration of oxygen 20 to 95% (PO2 140mm Hg) whereas the amount of carbon dioxide is low (i.e., 0.04%).

The alveolar PO2 is around 100mm Hg and the PO2 of venous blood is around 40mm Hg. This pressure gradient is enough for the transfer of O2. The PCO2 of venous blood is 46mm of Hg and that of alveolar air is only 6mm of Hg (i.e., 1/10th of O2), it is sufficient for CO2 transfer by diffusion. CO2 diffuses 20 times quicker than O2.


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