October is Healthy Lung Month, an annual reminder to stay conscious of ways to combat airborne toxins and reduce the risk of lung cancer nationwide. Lung cancer has a longstanding history as one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths around the world, however, 90 percent of diagnoses could have been prevented.
The reality is that taking simple steps to improve indoor air quality could make all the difference for your health. This Healthy Lung Month, learn the top causes of lung cancer and the most natural ways to fight against indoor air pollution – not just this month, but all year long.
The Main Cause
Smoking cigarettes is the number one cause of lung cancer and those who smoke tobacco products are 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with the cancer than people who don’t smoke. This product is suggested to contain over 7,000 chemicals, making the term “toxic” an understatement. Despite cigarettes being linked to nearly 90 percent of all lung cancer cases, consumers continue to purchase, use and support the tobacco industry.
This not only impacts smokers themselves, but also anyone in close proximity. Over 7,000 non-smokers are killed by secondhand smoke annually and this environmental issue is especially harmful to children under 18, resulting in 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections each year. The first step toward a possible resolution is encouraging loved ones to quit, but there may be circumstances where exposure is out of your control.
In this case, always try to keep your house, car, or any other common area smoke free. Opt for non-smoking facilities and, if you live in a public building such as an apartment, look into a reliable air purifier. Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent exposure, purifiers can help to reduce any lingering emissions that may have infiltrated indoors.
An Invisible Threat
The second leading cause of lung-related deaths in the United States happens to occur in the natural environment and is invisible to the human eye. Radon, a radioactive gas, develops within soil and is naturally emitted into our atmosphere. While we are always exposed to low levels outside, radon exposure can become dangerous when it accumulates to high levels inside of homes and buildings.
Research suggests that one in every 15 homes throughout the United States contains high levels of radon, a result of cracks and holes in the home’s structure. Rather than waiting for symptoms of respiratory issues to surface, test your home twice a year to ensure your indoor air quality is safe. A simple at-home test costs about 25 dollars and will assure that your home and family are being kept safe.
While most people have some degree of knowledge about the dangers of smoking and radon exposure, many of us never develop an interest in looking into other less common reasons for lung deterioration. The link between lung cancer and asbestos exposure has been well documented among industrial workers, primarily throughout the construction industry, shipyards and the military. Aside from working in high-risk professions, a major risk factor is living or working within a building constructed before 1980. Millions of homes are warned to hide this toxin today, as so many were built during the peak consumption of asbestos.
This has prompted safety organizations to stress the importance of approaching home projects with caution, including anything from maintenance to repairs. While this mineral isn’t an immediate threat to the respiratory system, disturbing toxic materials can stir up asbestos fibers and be inhaled by anyone in the surrounding area. Asbestos can pose an airborne threat for as long as 48 to 72 hours after it’s been broken. Over time these fibers can develop into an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma or asbestosis, both of which are preventable. The best way to assure your safety is to avoid renovating old homes until you have double-checked with an inspector and confirmed your house is free of asbestos.
Natural Solutions For Healthy Lungs
Other airborne toxins surrounding us every day include household solvents and chemicals like formaldehyde, lead, mold, and volatile organic compounds. Any one of these toxins could impact your indoor air quality and lead to the development of asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions. Here are some easy and natural ways to start being conscious of your lung health:
- Keep your home smoke free.
- Fix any leaks or water damage to prevent mold growth.
- Avoid aerosol sprays and choose fragrance-free products.
- Vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Keep the windows open whenever possible.
- Store toxic products such as paint or cleaning supplies outside in a shed or a garage to avoid off-gassing indoors.
- Take shoes off before entering your home to prevent tracking dirt, pesticides, or any other chemical throughout the house.
Healthy Lung Month is the perfect time to ask questions and do research on your own to find ways to better improve yours and your family’s health. Although some toxins are unfortunately unavoidable, taking these small steps may have the ability to improve your overall lung health and ultimately lead to a more enjoyable life.