I just wanted to calculate the theoretical time span in which I could survive (conscious) in my apartment without letting the air on the inside exchange oxygen/carbon dioxide with fresh air. During my calculations I came to the point where I was unsure, if the oxygen amount already consumed, influences the future O2 absorption and consequently the CO2 production.

In this hypotetical scenario, I assume that the air in my apartment is homogeneous and ideally mixed, thus measuring the same level of oxygen anywhere on the inside. Furhter I assume that all of my rooms are completely empty, hence having volume of the living space * room height * oxygen concentration as my initially available oxygen amount. (I tried to be independent of the air pressure by using standard values for consumption depending on concentration and calculate how long it would take for the oxygen level to drop below/carbon dioxide to rise above a specific threshol (depending on what gets lethal first) ).

I asked this particular question and not "How long can one survive in a closed room...", because I have not found a useful answer yet considering the oxygen/carbon dioxide concentration, but the absolute amount of these gases in it.

In case it would be helpful/necessary: I am not familiar with biochemical, metabolic reactions and have not studied in this field before.

Thanks in advance.

PS: If you think, another stackexchange community would be more appropiate, please comment.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you read about the effects of high altitude you should be able to map this on to your question in relation to oxygen requirements. However, in a closed room you would also have to consider the toxicity of accumulated carbon dioxide $\endgroup$
    – Alan Boyd
    Jul 27, 2017 at 15:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As @AlanBoyd suggests, carbon dioxide will be a problem before lack of oxygen is. Read up on the Apollo 13 mission. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 27, 2017 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ Related: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/53107/… $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 27, 2017 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Alan Boyd: Would the effects of high altitude be the same? There you have a 80/20 N2/O2 mix, but at lower absolute pressure. In a closed room (assuming a good CO2 scrubber system) you would maintain a higher pressure, but decrease the percentage of O2. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jul 27, 2017 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf I admit that the physics of gases was never one of my strengths. At high altitude the partial pressure of oxygen is lower because of the reduced overall pressure. In the closed room the partial pressure of oxygen falls because oxygen is consumed. Isn't it possible to use the fatal partial pressure derived from knowledge of altitude effects to deduce the fatal partial pressure in the closed room since it is the partial pressure of oxygen that determines the loading of haemoglobin in the lungs? $\endgroup$
    – Alan Boyd
    Jul 27, 2017 at 18:21


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