When we think about health typically it’s about what we eat, how we move, and what we do. We think about the body from the inside out. Let’s take a minute to think about it from the outside in.
The environment in which we live, not just food and exercise, can have a major impact on our health and every day activities. When you think about lung health you may think that if you avoid smoking or don’t smoke often that you are just fine. Here are a few other things in the environments you live in that may have bigger impact than you think.
Mold – Old homes, creaky attic spaces, and damp areas can harbor dangerous toxins which may build over time without your knowing.
Asbestos – Although this once commonly used insulating material is no longer used, there are still older standing buildings from decades ago that have not been cleaned up. Smokers are at an even higher risk when exposed. Reports say there is a synergistic interaction with can increase lung cancer risk up to 50 times.
Alcohol – Typically when you think alcohol you think of your liver and stomach, but it can also affect your lungs. Alcohol is an immune suppressant and can greatly impact lung health.
Work environment/Allergens/Air quality – There are many environments both indoor and out that come with risk. Radiation, chemicals, and other natural occurring gasses can have great effect on lung health. Long after events, like long time retired asbestos, can have a lasting environment and population impact. Even atomic bomb radiation is responsible for an increased risk of lung cancer among Japanese populations that were exposed during the time of the explosion.
Water quality -Bad drinking water is usually associated with other health complications can still have effects on lungs. A good deal of the risk can come from chemicals listed above.
Most of this is unseen and scary to think about. There are a few things you can do to avoid lung damage.
- If you currently smoke or are exposed to cigarette smoke regularly… STOP! Not only is there the primary associated risk but the compounded effects listed above.
- Wear protective lung and eye wear when cleaning, or in an area of low air quality.
- Know your environment. If you work or live in older buildings ask questions. Know if there is possibility of risked exposure to materials like asbestos.
- If you have a damp home or have any water damage from weather or broken pipes, make sure to keep watch for molds and clean up quickly. Black mold is one of the most dangerous to watch for.
Be well, be aware, and breathe easy(er).