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Respiratory System
The Lungs



The Lungs
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.8

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    bronchial, dust-filled, pleural, apex, breastbone, lifetime, abdomen, membrane, bronchus, environment, allow, upper, elderly, cone-shaped, function, ribs


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The Lungs
By Jennifer Kenny
  

1     Do you know what takes up most of the room inside your chest? Your lungs do, of course! The lungs look like shiny, smooth sponges. When you are young, your lungs are pink. As you age, lungs change to a darker color, usually gray or black. This occurs because of a lifetime of dust and dirt. Smokers have the most noticeable color change of all. Eskimos who have not smoked and who have not lived in a dust-filled environment often have pink lungs even when they are elderly. City dwellers have more noticeable changes than those who live in the country.
 
2     People have two lungs that are cone-shaped with a thin upper tip, called an apex, and a wide base. The heart and main blood vessels sit between the lungs. The left lung has two main parts called lobes. The right lung has three main lobes. The left lung is smaller than the right lung to make room for the heart. Together, the lungs weigh about two and a half pounds. A man's two lungs can hold about 6.4 quarts of air. A woman's lungs can hold about 4.5 quarts of air.
 
3     The base of the lungs sits on the diaphragm, which is really a large domed sheet of muscle. The diaphragm separates the lungs and heart from the organs in the abdomen. The cage of ribs, the breastbone, and the backbone protect the lungs. The cage is sturdy, but it is flexible enough to allow for breathing. The slippery, shiny, thin sheet called the pleural membrane covers each lung to keep it lubricated for the movements of breathing.

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Respiratory System
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