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What would be an ideal atmosphere for humans? I have been searching to find out what we can breathe and cannot breathe. The percentages and mixes are lost on me. Could there be an atmosphere more beneficial to us than Earth?

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    $\begingroup$ Why would you want to have a better atmosphere than the one we already have? Legit question, what do you want to achieve? Best health overall? Stronger humans? Less pulmonary diseases? If you set a parameter of what you expect from a better atmosphere it becomes easier to answer. To an average human, our atmosphere is already the best it can be (apart from pollution). $\endgroup$ – Faed Jul 18 '18 at 2:48
  • $\begingroup$ Definitely for better health and I suppose stronger humans. Hopefully all of this would lead to less disease and longer life spans. $\endgroup$ – trishz Jul 18 '18 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ laughing gas $\endgroup$ – Kepotx Jul 18 '18 at 5:21
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In general, probably not. We have millions of years of evolution based on the percentage we have now.

There are better mixtures in certain situations though. Many spacecraft have atmospheres of very high percentages of oxygen, sometimes even 100%, at low pressures. Oxygen is toxic at high concentrations and normal air pressure, but at low pressure it's not toxic and the low pressure means the spacecraft doesn't need to be as strong.

Divers often use different mixtures to avoid pressure sickness.

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In supplementing another answer, another consideration that I can think of is altitude. High concentrations of oxygen can be toxic at higher pressures, so a higher oxygen level for our planet may make things easier for people at higher altitudes, and vice versa. So the overall average altitude of where people live could influence the "ideal". So if you're say talking about engineering a planet or something in a story to be this way, you may want to take this into account, as its "easy" to control the global air mix, but you will run into trouble trying to have local areas have different pressures/mixes in an open air environment. Obviously, this is pure speculation on my part. Additionally, the environment has changed dramatically over the Earth's life, and evolution tends to lag behind it. So its plausible that we are in a 'change' period, and our own evolution hasn't caught up to the new norm, granted, the new norm isn't drastic enough to be killing people left and right, but it is by definition, not 'ideal'.

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