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More Co2 = less brains?

Brian Scott brians at interlog.com
Sun Feb 9 18:52:13 EST 1997

In article <01bc160f$e8e3e060$0afb0398 at jkern.duke.edu>,
Jason C. Doss <jkdoss at acpub.duke.edu> wrote:

>> Subject: 	More Co2 = less brains?
>> What are the effects on people of increased atmospheric Co2?
>> Obviously, more atmospheric Co2 means less O2 available as
>> percentages of total gases.  I remember reading, quite some
>> time ago, that as the Co2 percentage goes up, the cognitive
>> abilities of man are decreased.

[stuff deleted]

>The actual percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is way less than one
>percent, whereas the percentage of O2 is greater than 20.  Therefore, other
>more serious environmental problems will come to bear before CO2 will
>"crowd out" atmospheric O2.
>However, that is not to say that too much CO2 is not a big deal.  Excess
>CO2 in the blood will acidify the blood, which will mess up the ionic
>equilibrium of the body's cells (particularly potassium), including neurons
>in the brain.  The deranged equilibrium probably does cause cognitive
>defects, if mild.  However,  the condition of having too much CO2 in the
>blood, or hypercapnia (or hypercarbia) will lead to unconsciousness if

I think it would take very large excesses of CO2 in the atmosphere to 
have significant effects on brain function.  The body has many ways of 
dealing with increased CO2 and acid in blood, including increased 
ventillation and various buffering mechanisms.  People with these 
mechanisms intact would probably be able to stand large changes in 
atmospheric CO2 levels while those not able to maintain homeostasis due 
to respiratory and/or acid/base equilibrium problems may have difficulty.


Brian Scott          | "In other studies you go as far as others have gone
brians at interlog.com  |  before you, and there is nothing more to know; but
  M.Sc. student in   |  in scientific pursuit there is continual food for
  Neurophysiology    |  discovery and wonder."  -  Victor Frankenstein  

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