Respiration as Interface Between Self and Non-Self: Historico-Biological Perspectives

  • Constantine J. Falliers


The total “surface” (the area exposed to the macroscopic physical environment) of an adult human lung is approximately 70 square meters, i.e. nearly 40 times larger than the area covered by the skin (1). With these dimensions, and in view of the enormous physicochemical activity which takes place in the bronchiolar and alveolar regions, the lung, as the instrument for gas exchange, must be considered as the major interface between the organism (“self”) and the “outside world.” Chemical transport mechanisms essential for the support of life, biological metabolic processes and multiple defense mechanisms combine to give us an image of respiration as the function transforming lifeless matter from the environment into an integral part of a living organism, who concomitantly returns part of its own substance to the inanimate nature. An additional important aspect of lung function (not limited to our polluted and drug-oriented era) is related to possible accidental or intentional exposures to injurious or intoxicating substances, against which the system must defend itself in order to survive.


Bronchial Smooth Muscle Forced Oscillation Technique Anatomical Entity Biological Metabolic Process Intentional Exposure 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Constantine J. Falliers
    • 1
  1. 1.Children’s Asthma Research Institute & HospitalDenverUSA

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