Carbonation and its effects on the body

By: Ashley Harris

Carbonation is found in around 15% of drinks in the United States alone. A typical carbonated drink contains around 99.5% liquid and 0.5% CO2. When CO2 is consumed in high amounts it can cause a number of short term health effects such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and more. These may not seem like vast problems to the average person, but unlike the short term effects, the long term effects can be tremendously painful and even life threatening. Some of these long term effects involve difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, convulsions, and even coma.

According to Wikipedia, “CO2 is an acidic colorless gas with a density about 53% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide molecules consist of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth’s atmosphere as a trace gas.”

In an article titled “Is Carbon Dioxide Harmful to People?” it’s stated that “At moderate CO2 levels, around 1000 ppm, there are minor effects on the way your brain thinks. These same levels also reduce concentration and focus, as well as create discomfort from breathing stuffy air. However at higher levels, around 2500 ppm, there are significant reductions in cognitive functioning, especially for tasks that require higher-level thinking. People feel fatigued and report having more headaches”.

Although a typical carbonated beverage only contains about 5 ppm per 8 oz bottle, when CO2 is consumed It is absorbed into the small intestines by the fluids in the gut. This process takes about 24 hours (or a day). So, that means, if you do the math, that if someone drank around 200, 8 oz sodas, or 1,600 oz’s of soda, they could be at risk for minor health effects such as fatigue, headaches and dizziness. Whereas if they were to drink 2,000, 8 oz sodas they would be at risk for tremendous health problems such as seizures, immediate coma, and even death. So, unless you are soda crazy, CO2 can not do any serious harm to your body when consumed.

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