What causes damage to the lungs?

Johns Hopkins Medicine
Diseases, infections, airborne toxins, smoking and pollution can damage lungs. When the lungs are sick they can no longer do a good job of taking oxygen from the air. In addition, sick lungs cannot release the carbon dioxide produced by the body. Damage to the alveoli, where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged, leads to their destruction. As more alveoli are destroyed, the lungs lose their ability to function normally.

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