Blood pH and Oxygen
What are the effects of Oxygen Deprivation on the HCO3-
in the blood?
The pH (acidity level) of the blood monitors the level of carbon dioxide
(CO2). As a chemical equation,
H2O + CO2 = H+ + HCO3-
As CO2 levels increase, the concentration of H+ ions also increases. More
H+ means more acidic, or a lower pH. This state signals your brain that
you need to breathe faster or deeper. Under prolonged oxygen deprivation
(like skiing at the top of a mountain for a week), your body balances out
the pH by increasing the bicarbonate level (HCO3-). When the + and -
charges balance out, the pH is back to neutral levels.
New Haven, Connecticut
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Update: June 2012