October is Healthy Lung Month–the perfect time to stop and think about the things around you and your family that are being inhaled every day!
Avoid Household Toxins
Household lung hazards come in all different shapes, sizes and forms. The most common toxins can be found in household cleaners. Your typical cleaning solution can pack a punch with all sorts of toxic and possibly carcinogenic ingredients. Always be on the lookout for the following ingredients in your cleaning solutions:
Because these chemicals are commonly inhaled, they can be extremely detrimental to your health, particularly lung health. Instead, opt for organic choices that have simpler ingredients. Always read what is in the products you use! A good rule of thumb is to select products that you are familiar with the ingredients. If you aren’t sure what it is, a quick Google search will generally help you find out. You can always try DIY products with safe household ingredients like baking soda, castile soap, vinegar, sea salt, and essential oils. Check out these simple recipes for a gentle scrub cleanser and an all purpose cleaner. Each contains only 3 ingredients and clean just as well (or better) than store bought brands.
Besides household cleaners, there can be other toxins within your house. Asbestos is a common substance found in homes built before the 1980’s. Asbestos is a natural fiber that was commonly used for it’s heat and fire resistant properties–making it useful in building materials like insulation, tiling, joint compounds, etc.
Asbestos particles can be inhaled when disturbed and airborne, causing severe health risks. Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer, most commonly found in the lungs, is one of the most severe risks. If you own an older home and suspect there may be asbestos, have it looked at by a professional. Do not try removing it yourself! This requires proper equipment to ensure it doesn’t linger in your home.
Another toxin to monitor is radon. It is a highly toxic, colorless, odorless gas that occurs in most homes. An estimated 1 out of 15 homes in the U.S. have elevated radon levels. The gas comes from rock below your home, and the levels can vary based on your geographic location and the type of rock beneath your home. Breathing in too much radon can lead to lung cancer. In order to find out if your home has it, have it tested. It’s always a good practice to keep a radon monitor in your home.
Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
There are so many different ways to improve the air quality inside of your home. By focusing on three key components you should be able to make a huge difference in the air you’re breathing.
Deep clean your home regularly
Dust and dirt build up so quickly, sometimes it’s hard to maintain! To make this a little bit easier, pick one room a week to tackle (along with routine cleaning throughout entire house). Having one room to focus on allows you to do a much better and more thorough job. Of course, keep in mind that the cleaning supplies you use are important as well. Make sure products are safe and don’t contain harmful and possibly carcinogenic ingredients. You can use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning if you have any hesitations about what ingredients are on the label, or what products are safe to buy.
Other tips to keep in mind for cleaning: invest in a good vacuum, and use doormats. You can prevent or reduce toxins tracked inside your house!
Keep air purifying plants inside
How can you go wrong here? Pick a plant that looks lovely in your home, while also helping to clean the air you breathe in? Win, win! Greatist has a wonderful list of plants and the types of toxins they remove from the air. There are options for everybody–regardless if you have a green thumb or not!
Use air purifiers and humidifiers/dehumidifiers
Air purifiers can help remove particles from that air that might have been disturbed while dusting or cleaning. While an air purifier cannot remove all toxins from this home, it’s a great addition to assist in the cleaning of your air!
Humidifiers add moisture to the air, while dehumidifiers take moisture away from the air. To determine which you might need, get a hygrometer to measure the moisture in the air. Ideally, you want 30-50% moisture in the air–this is normal and healthy. If the air is dry, you may want to use a humidifier. This can particularly help ease breathing in those with allergies and asthma. You also want to make sure that you keep your humidifier clean. Putting dirty moisture into the air can be counterproductive and actually make symptoms worse.
If your air moisture is over 50%, a dehumidifier can help. Some allergens like mold and dust mites thrive with humidity. Removing the humidity can lessen your chances of being affected by allergens like these.
Don’t Smoke – OR QUIT SMOKING!
Tobacco smoke is the number 1 risk factor for lung cancer. Eighty to 90% of lung cancer cases in the US are linked to cigarette smoke. It is so harmful, because tobacco smoke contains thousands are harmful toxins and chemicals–many of them being carcinogenic.
Even if you are a smoker, you can lessen your chances of developing lung cancer if you quit! While you would still be at a higher risk than somebody who has never smoked, you can still help your health by abstaining from smoking further. It is crucial to your health, and also those around you! Secondhand smoke can be extremely detrimental to non-smokers health. Over 7,000 people who have never smoked die from lung cancer–possibly caused by secondhand smoke, each year. It can also increase a non-smoker’s risk of heart disease.
Healthy Lung Month
Help spread awareness for lung health, and even share your own tips by using the hashtag #HealthyLungMonth! Our lungs are what keep fresh air flowing through our body, and keep all other organs functioning. Their health is top priority, so take care of them!
How do you take care of your lungs? Have you made any positive changes like quitting smoking or switching to natural cleaners? Tell us in the comments below!