What Is the Function of the Lungs?

The lungs are a pair of organs located in the chest cavity that perform respiration. These are about 12 inches long. The lungs are a protective membrane. The area between the two lungs is called the mediastinum, which contains the heart, trachea, esophagus and blood vessels. The lung is protected by the ribcage.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Purpose of the Lungs

The purpose of the lung is for oxygen to enter the body, while removing carbon dioxide. Oxygen provides the body with energy, while carbon dioxide is a bodily waste produced by cellular metabolism that collects in the tissues of the body.


According to the American Lung Association, our lungs breathe in 8,000 to 9,000 liters of air of air daily in order to meet the demand of 8,0000 to 10,000 liters of blood that is pumped in through the heart.


The lungs oxygenate the body because air is breathed in via the nose or mouth. When a person breathes in, the lungs expand and need assistance from other muscles in order to function properly. When a person breathes out, or exhales, the lungs do not need assistance.


The function of the lungs is to maintain the body's respiration, which means that the lungs bring oxygen to the bloodstream via alveoli, or tiny sacs in the lungs. When oxygen enters the blood, hemoglobin picks it up and transport it throughout the body. The lungs also remove carbon dioxide from the bloodstream, disposing of the waste by product of the body. When the lungs do not work properly, it means that oxygen is not getting to the body and that they need to work harder to function. Problems with the lungs, such as pneumonia, lung disease, asthma or other problems put more stress on bodily functions.


The nose acts as a filtering system, decreasing the number of irritants that enter the lung. The nose also adds heat and moisture to the air. Breathing in through the mouth does not filter oxygen, so more irritants may be delivered to the lungs. The lungs also protect themselves by coughing, as it can expel irritants easily. When the lungs are irritated, the muscle surrounded the lung begins to tighten to keep an irritant out. This tightening causes a spasm, which can make it more difficult to breathe. These can be signals to the body that there is an infection or irritant that should be avoided or treated.