Harper's Weekly 08/03/1867
CAPACITY OF THE HUMAN LUNGS.
Our chest is divided into two apartments by a
vertical partition. The windpipe branches into
two tubes just behind the top of the breast-bone
Śleading down to the lungs on either side of the
heart, which is placed between them. Those
organs in shape are like the hoof of an ox.
They are entirely made up of air-cells, of irreg-
ular figureŚeach being approached by the ex-
treme point of a tube which is one of the minute
subdivisions of the windpipeŚcalled bronchi.
So delicately small are those air-cells, that 18,000
belong to a single lobule. Six hundred millions
of them make up the whole breathing apparatus.
It will be seen that we have two lungs, acting
independently of each other, although receiving
and expelling the air, through a large tube, into
which both bronchial pipes unite. One lung may
be diseased, while the functions of the other sus-
tain life. If the diseased lung could be set at
rest till the lesion were healed, or the pipe se-
cured so no air could be drawn into it to in-
crease the diseased surface, then pulmonary con-
sumption could be effectually arrested, or life and
health be maintained by the labors of one lung.
When inflated, as in ordinary breathing, the six
hundred millions of cells hold about one hundred
and forty inches of atmospheric air. The oxy-
gen of the air is imbibed, and with the outgoing
air, which left its vitalizing properties, carbonic
acid gas escapes.
No organs of our system are more abused.
Tainted air, the inhalation of tobacco smoke,
living too fast by stimulating the heart beyond
its power by too much wine, too much whisky,
and too much foul of any thing, and consump-
tion sweeps off unnumbered thousands who
might have lived to threescore and ten.