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Breathing is an autonomous function, necessary for human survival.  We breathe 15 to 25 times per minute, 24/7, taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide (CO2) via the lungs, a pair of spongy, air-filled organs on either side of the chest.

So what is REALLY happening, deep down, in the details of the process? How does the oxygen get into the bloodstream and CO2 come out? Let’s take a look at the steps:

  1. Inspiration or Inhalation

When you inhale, the diaphragm, a thin layer of muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen, contracts. This contraction creates a vacuum in the lungs. Air is pulled in through your nose and/or mouth. The inhaled air goes down the trachea and bronchus, through the spongy lung tissue until it reaches microscopic air bags called alveoli

Fun fact: the average human lung has 350 million alveoli.

In the alveoli, the oxygen brought in is exchanged for carbon dioxide. This brief TedEd video shows how that process happens — in short, oxygen molecules want to go where there is less oxygen, and CO2 molecules go where there is less CO2. So when the oxygen-filled alveoli come in contact with the CO2filled capillaries, the oxygen molecules are taken up into the capillaries and the CO2 moves to the alveoli. The now oxygen-rich red blood cells travel throughout the body to feed muscle activity, and the CO2-rich air is exhaled.

  1. Expiration or Exhalation

When you exhale, the diaphragm expands, pushing against your lungs, which expel the CO2-laden air, and whatever else you may have inhaled (dust, mucus, moisture, or other particulate matter, which may result in coughing).

Lungs are a critical part of overall health, performing necessary functions to provide elements for the body to sustain life. Our modern world brings with it things like smoking, chemical exposures, and air pollution, which can damage lung function and lead to respiratory disease, and even cancer. One way modern science is attempting to mitigate that damage is by developing methods of delivering nicotine or cannabis to the blood stream without combustion.

Altasciences has been active in the study of smoking tobacco and cannabis, and application of new technologies like vaping or electronic nicotine delivery systems, utilizing their state-of-the-art facilities for studies looking at safety and tolerability, smoking cessation, abuse potential, and effect on cognition.

Altasciences smoking/vaping evaluation experience

Our bioanalytical laboratory has extensive expertise with validated assays for nicotine (including metabolites) in plasma and urine, as well as a number of biomarkers of tobacco exposure.

We have controlled indoor smoking areas with independent ventilation systems and outdoor venting, for the evaluation of:

Smoking Cessation

Abuse Potential

Nicotine Delivery


Tobacco Risk

Cannabis Delivery


Contact Altasciences today for information about smoking/vaping services offered to the industry. Email to contact@altasciences.com

See if Altasciences is recruiting for a study you may want to participate in.


Our deep expertise and capabilities in a broad range of therapeutic areas encompasses preclinical and early clinical studies for both small molecules and biologics. We can manage your entire program, as well as provide comprehensive support research services and bioanalytical expertise.

Please see Therapeutic Areas for a fuller discussion of our capabilities and expertise.

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Working as a flexible, attentive extension of your team, we offer all you need to move your molecule forward.