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Water, Acids, Bases, And Buffers

N. V. Bhagavan, C. Ha
Published 2011 · Chemistry

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This chapter introduces basic concepts of the properties of water, acids, bases, and buffers. Water plays a major role in all aspects of metabolism: absorption, transport, digestion, and excretion of inorganic and organic substances, as well as maintenance of body temperature. The unique properties of water are due to its structure. The reversible dissociation of water, although very weak, is important in maintaining and regulating the body's acid-base homeostasis. An optimal acid-base balance is maintained in body fluids and cells despite large fluxes of metabolites. It is noted that a buffer system protects the body from fluctuations in pH. Metabolism produces both inorganic and organic acids. Acids generated from metabolites other than CO 2 are non-volatile and are excreted via the kidney. Non-volatile acids are lactic acid, acetoacetic acid, β-hydroxybutyrate, and acids derived from sulfur-containing amino acids and phosphorous-containing compounds. CO 2 produced by metabolism is transported as bicarbonate ion (HCO 3 - ) in the bicarbonate–carbonic system in plasma. CO 2 is eliminated in the lungs. Perturbations in this system can lead either to retention of CO 2 or to excessive loss of CO 2 .
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