November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and a great chance to kickstart a more conscious lifestyle to improve lung function. Much attention is paid to outdoor air quality but studies have shown that on average Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. Unfortunately, indoor air quality is typically two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Some of the biggest offenders are carbon monoxide, radon and asbestos. All three are commonly found inside homes, it is very important to know how they can affect your health, and what you can do to mitigate your risk.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that kills more than 400 Americans each year. The gas is found in fumes produced from cars, trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. The best way to avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide is to install a carbon monoxide detector.
Radon, similar to carbon monoxide, is also tasteless, odorless and colorless. The gas is produced from the elements in rocks and soil. Those who spend a lot of time in poorly ventilated places are at the highest risk. You can have your home’s radon level tested. If the radon levels are too high, active soil depressurization is one of the best solutions. This technique will collect the radon from beneath the home, before it is able to enter the dwelling.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was commonly used in a building materials through the 1970s. The material is the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer. The disease is an aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lungs, abdominal cavity, and heart. Patients typically only live 12 to 21 months following diagnosis. Symptoms of mesothelioma include chest pain, weight loss, and anemia. If you believe there is asbestos in your home, it is important to have it removed by a professional with specialized training. Asbestos is the most dangerous when it has been disrupted, so do not try to handle removal on your own.
Limiting exposure to these three airborne toxins can do wonders for overall health. Whether it be purchasing a carbon monoxide detector, or having your home’s radon levels tested, doing your lungs a favor now could save you from catastrophic health issues later in life.
To learn more about lung cancer treatment, visit TMH.ORG/Cancer.