Humans could be fueling global warming through their breathing, a new study suggests.
“Exhaled human breath may contain small, elevated concentrations of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), both of which contribute to global warming,” according to a study published last week in the British journal PLOS.
Methane and nitrous oxide exhaled by humans account for around 0.1 of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, the report said.
These gases add to the carbon dioxide that humans exhale.
The study – led by Dr Nicholas Cowan of the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology – involved 104 adult volunteers and found that every one of them exhaled nitrous oxide, while 31 per cent of them exhaled methane.
Those who didn’t exhale methane in their breath likely still released the gas “ionic flatulence,” according to the study, referring to burping and flatulence.
“We only report respiratory emissions in this study, and flatulence emissions are likely to increase these values significantly, although no literature characterizes these emissions for residents of the United Kingdom,” wrote the Research Team.
“Assuming that livestock and other wildlife also exhale N2O emissions, there may still be a small but significant source of unaccounted N2O emissions in the UK, which could account for more than 1% of broadcasts nationwide,” they added. .
The gas concentrations in the study samples allowed researchers to estimate that human breath accounts for 0.05 percent of the UK’s methane emissions and 0.1 percent of nitrous oxide.
The study did not find a link between exhaled gas and diet.
“The increase in the concentration of CH4 and N2O in the breath of vegetarians and meat eaters is of a similar magnitude,” the researchers said. “Based on these results, we can say that when estimating emissions from a population in the UK, it is unlikely that diet or future changes in diet will be important when estimating emissions (expiration) across the UK.”
New York Post