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Name: Joanne
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: USA
Date: Spring 2014

From what I understand, oxygen is able to passively diffuse through cell membranes. If this is the case, why can we not absorb oxygen through our skin and breathe this way? Why instead are lungs required. I understand that lungs help to increase surface area so they can take in more oxygen than our skin. However, is there some oxygen that is absorbed directly through our skin?

Oxygen absorption through our skin is negligible, because the keratin layer which covers our outer skin squamous cell epithelium (stratum corneum) prevents any significant passive absorption of oxygen.

Dr John Cowsar Family Physician

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