What Does Air Consist Of?


Air is a mixture of gases, consisting primarily of nitrogen and oxygen, with some trace gases as well. Although the term "air" refers to the gas mixture covering the surface of the Earth, this application results in an inconsistent meaning. Atmospheric air has a precise meaning, and variations among the constituent gases or addition of other gases, such as carbon monoxide, are regarded as contaminants.


  • Atmospheric air consists of 78.084% nitrogen gas by volume.


  • Atmospheric air consists of 20.946% oxygen gas by volume.

Carbon Dioxide

  • The concentration of carbon dioxide gas in atmospheric air is 0.038% by volume.


  • By volume, the concentration of argon in atmospheric air is 0.0934%

Trace Gases

  • The remaining trace gases include neon, helium, krypton, xenon, hydrogen, methane, and nitrous oxide, and their concentrations in atmospheric air is measured in parts per million.


  • United States Navy. U.S. Navy Diving Manual. 2008.
  • Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Hamed Saber
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