Enjoy these interesting oxygen facts and learn more about how it relates to the air we breathe, water, the ozone layer and much more.
Oxygen plays an essential role in the lives of humans and other living organisms.
In a nutshell, oxygen enables the cells of the body to release the energy stored as high-energy chemical bonds in our food, and enables them to use that energy to do what cells do: namely, to keep us alive, heart beating, brain thinking, and kidneys turning our liquids into unplanned pit stops. Virtually every cell in the body needs oxygen in order to perform its part in the complex symphony of skills and judgement that enables us to fly an airplane.
Many cells in the body can function for a short time using anaerobic metabolism, or metabolism without oxygen. Alas, the brain and heart, while skilled at many things, are notoriously poor anaerobic performers. Four or five minutes with no oxygen and the brain and heart throw in the towel. This is what happens when, for instance, a person suffers a cardiac arrest and is not resuscitated quickly. There is no flow of oxygen-carrying blood to the brain and other vital organs when the heart is not beating, so they are damaged irreversibly in a very short time.