December 4th, 2016 1:24pm
As we move into winter, it’s no secret that majority of people tend to escape the cold and spend their time indoors. According to the EPA indoor air pollution can be much more detrimental to our health than outdoor, which means this time of year can be especially hard on our lungs. Poor air quality can lead to numerous respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD, and lung cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States which is why it’s so important to educate ourselves on the issue. The good news is you can combat exposure to these toxins and take control of the air you breathe. Here is a list of common toxins found indoors and how to keep your lungs safe and healthy this season.
Radon is an invisible and harmful radioactive gas that is released naturally through the decay of uranium. This toxin is usually present outdoors at harmless levels. However, because some buildings are built on natural uranium deposits, without proper ventilation this gas can accumulate and increase the risk of lung cancer. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and can be released in homes through cracks in the foundation, construction materials, or from groundwater that has been exposed. Upon a proper test, the problem can be fixed in order to ensure your home is safe from exposure.
Asbestos is a natural mineral that was widely known for its durability, resistance to chemical reactions and fire. Any building constructed prior to 1980 could contain this toxin, which causes various lung diseases and is the only known cause of Mesothelioma. Pleural Mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs and accounts for 70-90% of new diagnoses making it the most common form of the rare cancer. If you believe asbestos may be present in your home, school, or workplace it’s important to consult an asbestos professional followed by a licensed abatement specialist. You should never try to handle the situation yourself as no amount of exposure is safe.
Reading ingredients on products can be overwhelming, however, going the extra mile to ensure your cleaning supplies are safe is well worth the hassle. This process is much easier if you know what chemicals to avoid, such as VOCs, which can cause mild headaches to chronic respiratory problems. These toxins are often found in aerosol spray products, air fresheners, detergent, and more. There are many natural alternatives, however, if you decide to use these products open your windows and keep the room well ventilated. The EPA reports that levels of VOCs are up to ten time higher indoors than outside which makes ventilation crucial to your home’s air quality.
Most people are aware that tobacco products cause endless health issues, however, many are surprised to learn that secondhand smoke is considered an indoor air pollutant. This concept is also known as ETS or environmental tobacco smoke because involuntary exposure is a common trigger for asthma, and can lead to COPD and lung cancer. Even if your family or friends are not smoking directly near you, secondhand smoke can travel through rooms, apartments, air vents, etc. The EPA found that exposure to ETS causes 3,000 lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers each year. It’s important to be aware that you are still susceptible to the negative effects regardless of whether or not you smoke or live in a smoke-free home. You should always be aware of your surroundings and avoid these products altogether in order to keep your home and lungs toxic free.
It’s easy to ignore air pollution because we cannot physically see harmful toxins, however, air quality is extremely important for our lungs and future health. Being aware of these toxins and taking steps to eliminate indoor contaminants will not only benefit your home, but the environment as well. Use these tips to keep yourself as well as your loved ones safe and healthy not only this year, but every year.