Compare The Air At 18,000feet(atmospheric Pressure 280mm Hg) To The Air At Sea Level (760mmHg). What Specific Changes In The Primary Atmospheric Gases (nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide) Might Occur? Are The Significant


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Joe McHugh Profile
Joe McHugh answered
Air pressure at 18,000 feet is half the value that you would get at sea level. As you move up in altitude the air gets thinner, there is less pressure and atmosphere which is why airplanes need to maintain pressure at ground level within the aircraft.

At sea level or ground level the air is fairly thick but as you move up to higher levels the air thins out meaning that there are less molecules in the air- that applies equally to oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. The reduction in air pressure creates various problems for humans, most noticeably the lack of oxygen going into the bloodstream requires attention otherwise severe problems arise. Inhaling pure oxygen directly makes up for the shortfall and allows the body to function as normally as possible although obviously you can only receive a certain amount of pure oxygen.

Altitude has a similar effect on nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Although they remain in the same proportions with oxygen. The higher an altitude that you reach the thinner the air will get meaning that substitutes and replacements have to be found.
Whatever type of journey you are planning, whether it's in airplane, mountain climbing or even in a hot air balloon, these changes need to be prepared for.

There are plenty of options available to cover for the reduction in air pressure at altitude with careful planning able to minimize the effect. Beyond 18,000 feet air pressure will continue to reduce, there is no specific altitude where this becomes critical but clearly the higher you reach the lesser the pressure becomes requiring greater substitutes. Whatever type of climb you are planning it is essential that you prepare for the reduction in air pressure.

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