Nature provides a simple system for cleaning the air of excessive carbon dioxide (CO2) and creating oxygen (O2) for people to breathe. Foliage on trees and plants use a chemical processes known as photosynthesis, which helps plants absorb CO2 and produce, among other things, oxygen.
CO2 is the chemical formula symbol for carbon dioxide. It is a natural atmospheric gas composed of one carbon and two oxygen atoms. Carbon dioxide results from the combustion of organic matter if sufficient amounts of oxygen are present. Green plants combine CO2 with water to make sugars and oxygen during photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis means "putting together with light," producing plant food and oxygen from sunlight. Carbon dioxide enters the plant through openings called stomata. They are tiny pores on the upper and lower side of plant leaves. Six molecules of water and six molecules of carbon dioxide (CO2) produce one molecule of sugar, plus six molecules of oxygen, according to the Maricopa University Extension.
As plants decay they release CO2 back into the atmosphere in the form of carbon which acts as a greenhouse gas. CO2 is also released into the environment as a by-product of industrialization. The concentration of atmospheric CO2 has already increased by about 30 percent since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the late 1800s, according to Science Daily online. Trees and plants are not able to take in and transform the volume of carbon dioxide being released into the air by coal, natural gas, and oil factories.
When rainforests are described as the lungs of the planet, it means they produce a large amount of oxygen for people to breathe. When these forests are removed, carbon dioxide increases and oxygen decreases.
Excessive amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere cause symptoms such as "headaches, dizziness, restlessness, a tingling or pins or needles feeling, difficulty breathing, sweating, tiredness, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, coma and asphyxia to convulsions," according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Carbon dioxide builds up indoors when there is insufficient air circulation.