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How does gas exchange occur during respiration?

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As energy is utilized by cells, one of the waste products is the gas carbon dioxide. Oxygen-enriched red blood cells release oxygen to the cells of the body and then pick up the waste carbon dioxide. This oxygen- deprived, dark blue blood is then delivered to the blood vessels of the lungs. Carbon dioxide is released by the red cell, easily passes through the capillary wall into the space in the air sac of the adjacent alveoli, and is then eliminated with each breath out of the mouth (exhalation). Oxygen present in the air sac easily passes into the capillaries and into the red blood cells. The capillary network carrying this oxygen-rich, bright red blood empties into the left side of the heart where it is pumped to all the tissues of the body. Thus, the cycle or circle of blood is complete; hence, the name circulation.

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Archived: March 20, 2014

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