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Form 3 Science

Chapter 1 –
The Human Breathing mechanism…
• Respiration is the living process in which energy is released from the
food we eat.
• The oxygen needed for respiration is taken in from the atmosphere and
carbon dioxide is released.
• The exchange of gases which occurs in the lungs is known as breathing.
The Structure of the Human Respiratory System
• Air enters the nose through nostrils. The walls of the nostrils are lined
with hairs to trap dust particles in the air.
• Nasal cavity is the interior area of the nose. It is lined with a sticky
mucus that traps bacteria and other foreign particles in inhaled air.
• Air enters the lungs through the trachea. The trachea is kept open by C-
shaped rings of cartilage.
• Bronchi are the two main air passages into the lungs. Each bronchus
branches into smaller tubes called bronchioles.
• Bronchioles end in tiny air sacs called alveoli (singular: alveolus). The
alveoli are surrounded by blood capillaries.
• Intercostal muscles move the ribs up and down during breathing.
• Diaphragm controls the volume of the thoracic cavity.
The Human Breathing mechanism…
Flow of Air from the Atmosphere to the Lungs…
• The passage of air in the human respiratory system can be summarized as
Nostrils Æ nasal cavity Æ trachea Æ bronchus Æ bronchiole Æ alveolus
The Breathing Mechanism
• Inhalation is the taking in of air into the lungs.
• The air which enters the lungs is called inhaled air.
• Exhalation is the release of air from the lungs into the atmosphere.
• The air expelled is called exhaled air.
The Breathing Mechanism…

Inhalation Exhalation
The external intercostal muscles The external intercostal muscles relax.
The rib cage moves upwards and The rib cage moves downwards and
outwards. inwards.
The diaphragm contracts and The diaphragm relaxes and curves
flattens. upwards.
The volume of the thoracic cavity The volume of the thoracic cavity
increases. decreases.
The air pressure in the thoracic cavity The air pressure in the thoracic cavity
decreases. increases.
Air enters the lungs (inhalation) Air is forced out of the lungs
Transport of Oxygen in the Human Body…
The Diffusion of Oxygen from the Alveoli into the Blood Capillaries
• During inhalation, air is taken in and reaches the alveoli.
• (a) The concentration of oxygen in the alveoli is higher than the
concentration of oxygen in the blood capillaries.
• (b) The concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood capillaries is higher
than the concentration of carbon dioxide in the alveoli.

Parts Oxygen Content Carbon Dioxide

Alveoli High Low
Capillaries Low High

• As a results, gaseous exchange takes place between the blood capillaries

and the alveoli through the process of diffusion.
• Oxygen diffuses from the alveoli to the blood capillaries. Carbon dioxide
diffuses from the blood capillaries to the alveoli.
• After gaseous exchange has taken place, blood rich in oxygen (oxygenated
blood) leaves the lungs and is then transported to the heart and then to the
rest of the body.
Gaseous exchange between an alveolus and the
blood capillaries surrounding the alveolus
Adaptations of the alveoli for efficient gaseous exchange…
• Millions of alveoli in the lungs provide a very large surface area for gaseous
• Have thin walls. The wall of each alveolus is one-cell thick to allow easy
diffusion of gases.
• Each alveolus is surrounded by a network of blood capillaries which transport
gases to and from the alveolus rapidly.
• The surface of each alveolus is moist so that gases can dissolve in the
moisture before diffusing across the alveolus.
Transport of oxygen by red blood cells in human blood
(a) Red blood cells contain the oxygen-carrying pigment called haemoglobin.
(b) Oxygen combines easily with haremoglobin to form oxyhaemoglobin
Oxygen + haemoglobin Æ oxyhaemoglobin
The diffusion of oxygen from the blood capillaries into the body cells
(a) Gaseous exchange takes place between the blood capillaries and the body
(b) As a result, oxyhaemoglobin releases oxygen and oxygen diffuses from the
blood capillaries to the body cells.
(c) Carbon dioxide diffuses from the body cells to the blood capillaries.
The Importance of a Healthy Respiratory System…
• Air contains pollutants such as cigarette smoke, toxic gases from factories
and vehicles, and microorganisms.
• Pollutants are harmful substances that can cause diseases or even death.
Effects of Harmful Substance in Polluted Air
• Sulphur dioxide irritates the throat and damages lung tissues.
• Oxides of nitrogen can lead to haze which causes throat irritation and
breathing difficulties.
• Coal, dust and asbestos result in a blocked respiratory tract which leads to
breathing difficulties. Asbestos dust is a carcinogen that can cause lung
• Carbon monoxide competes with oxygen to combine with haemoglobin. This
reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood.
• Cigarette smoke
(a) Tar contains carcinogens that can cause lung cancer. It can deposit on the
lungs and blacken it.
(b) Nicotine in the tobacco causes an addiction to smoking.
• Bacteria or viruses can cause influenza, whooping cough or pneumonia.
Diseases Related to the Respiratory System…
• Asthma: Narrowing of the bronchi and bronchioles, and this causes difficulty
in breathing.
• Lung Cancer: Heavy smokers have higher risk of getting lung cancer.
• Emphysema: Alveoli are broken down. This reduces the surface are for
gaseous exchange and causes difficulty in breathing.
• Bronchitis: Persistent cough caused by infection by bacteria or viruses and
cigarette smoke.
Improving the Quality of Air
• Good practices to improve air quality involve the participation of all parties.
These include:
(a) Campaign to avoid smoking or quit smoking
(b) Ban smoking in public areas
(c) Avoid open burning
(d) Encourage the use of public transport
(e) Implementation of law and regulation to control air pollution