6. Mechanisms of work related disease
The respiratory system is essential to life as the body's provider of oxygen. Oxygen is provided in a way which the body can use, cleaned, warmed and humidified, ready for delivery to cells to permit aerobic metabolism. The respiratory system also allows for the excretion of carbon dioxide. The respiratory system is usually considered to comprise: airways (nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles); an area of gas exchange (alveoli); and the necessary structures to drive and control respiration (ribs, intercostals muscles, diaphragm, pleura and nervous system).
The respiratory system is also important as one of the bodies significant interfaces with the environment. A normal person usually breathes about six litres of air a minute, and during exercise this may increase to over 75 litres per minute. The alveoli where gas exchange occurs are necess