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Author Topic: How much water can an average-sized lung hold until the person drowns?  (Read 39230 times)

Offline Chemistry4me

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How much water can an average-sized lung hold until the person drowns? :-\


 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Alright, seeing as nobody appears to know I might have to do some digging myself. :)
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Hi Chemistry4me,
That is a good question, why didn't I think of it before? :)

Well if you believe this:

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A teaspoon of water into your lungs can kill you.So I would imagine not very much

and this:

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That is hard to say. Water is absorbed rapidly into the blood from the lungs and many drowning victims are dry.It would take less than a cup full anyhow.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090131185836AAoEupo

Apparently it is less than a cup. :)
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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This fella seems to agree with the previous one:

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It doesn’t take much. Less than a cup of water will do the trick.

http://www.fluther.com/disc/9038/how-much-water-does-it-take-to-drown/
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Wow!
Thanks for that Chemistry4me. :)
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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You might like to know that you can also drown without any sort of liquid...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_drowning
 

Offline Karen W.

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Wow I would say that is always what I have been told...
 By the way you are such a resourceful fellow!
« Last Edit: 15/03/2009 16:10:47 by Karen W. »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Well, I don't think they do it often, but if you are careful you can fill a lung with water and not die. The medics call it broncholavage.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Broncho... what? ??????
I could even find that in the dictionary! ???
 

Offline John Chapman

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This drowning-in-a-teaspoon-of-water thing that we always hear of....

I have always assumed that, while it may be possible that a teaspoon full can kill you, it is probably because of choking or asphyxiation. ie someone falls unconscious and lands face-down in a puddle and is somehow suffocated by the water. And so it is called drowning.

Actually, thinking about it, what is drowning? It's not the water that kills you but the lack of oxygen. Surely the victim dies of suffocation which could be caused by any number of things, such as a cushion pressed to the face or a plastic bag over the head. Or water covering the nose and mouth.

In fact, the more I think about it the more I feel that this whole teaspoon thing is an urban myth. The mouth and nose are shaped so that it is not possible to cover them both with such a small quantity of water. I wonder if the story comes from the fact that some drowned people may only have a teaspoon of foreign liquid actually in their lungs which, of course, is not the same as drowning in one teaspoon full.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Well, I know there's more to life than wiki but their definition is "Drowning is death from suffocation (asphyxia) caused by a liquid entering the lungs and preventing the absorption of oxygen leading to cerebral hypoxia and cardiac arrest.[1]"
If a small amount of water clogs up the lungs (and it could by messing up the surfactant preoperties of the liquid layer that is meant to be there) then a small amount of water will drown you. A teaspoonfull seems a bit extreme, but I wouldn't like to rule it out.
 

Offline John Chapman

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A?

What surfactant layer?
 

Offline Bored chemist

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The surface of the lung is wet, but it's not pure water (of course). There are proteins in it which act to reduce the surface tension, otherwise it would be difficult to re-inflate your lungs after you breathed out.
 

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