How Many Trees Meet a Human’s Oxygen Needs for One Day?

3 mins read

You have probably heard that trees produce oxygen. But have you ever wondered how much oxygen a tree produces and how many trees a person needs to meet their daily oxygen needs? Deforestation is one of the most important problems of our time. Oxygen is indispensable for life. Let’s try to understand the relationship between trees and oxygen a little more.

Trees produce energy by converting carbon dioxide and water into glucose using the energy they receive from the sun’s rays, and they release oxygen due to this reaction. Like all plants, trees need to use some of the oxygen they produce to convert the glucose back into energy and carry out their metabolic activities. However, averaged over a 24-hour period, they still produce more oxygen than they use. Otherwise there is no net gain in growth.

The math is actually simple. It takes six molecules of carbon dioxide to produce one molecule of glucose through photosynthesis. In the process, six oxygen molecules are released back as a by-product. Each glucose molecule contains six carbon atoms. This means that one oxygen atom is gained in the production of each glucose molecule.

How Many Trees Meet a Human's Oxygen Needs for One Day? 1

A mature plane tree is about 12 meters tall and weighs two tons, including the roots and leaves. If it grows by five percent each year, it will produce about 100 kg of wood, of which 38 kg will be carbon. Taking into account the molecular weights of oxygen and carbon, it is concluded that each plane tree produces 100 kilograms of oxygen per year.

How Much Oxygen Does a Human Consume?

A human breathes about 9.5 tons of air per year, but oxygen makes up only 23 percent of this air by mass. This translates to about 740 kg of oxygen per year. This is roughly equivalent to the value of seven or eight trees. But there is one thing to remember in this calculation. The amount of oxygen a tree produces depends on various factors such as its species, age, health and environment. A tree produces a different amount of oxygen in summer than in winter. So there is no exact value. It is also important to remember that trees not only release oxygen but also consume carbon dioxide.

As a note, trees are not the largest source of oxygen in the world. That honor belongs to the phytoplankton in our oceans, which are collectively responsible for most of the world’s oxygen supply.

Ali Esen

Istanbul University, Department of Mathematics. Interested in science and technology.

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