October is a month set aside for lung awareness. It’s National Healthy Lung Month, and Lung Health Day is October 28. National Respiratory Care Week is October 25-30. It may seem arbitrary to set aside a particular month for health awareness, but it’s useful to remind ourselves of the things in our environment that can harm us and to act with compassion toward those who have already been harmed.
Lung disease affects a staggering number of Americans. About 10 million adults are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis each year, and about 4.7 million others have ever been diagnosed with emphysema. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema constitute the diseases that make up Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). About 25 million people live with asthma as well.
Occupational lung diseases, which include asbestosis and mesothelioma, also affect many Americans. Occupational illnesses are estimated to cost $150 billion annually. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), typically caused by long-term exposure to lung irritants that damage the lungs and airways, is attributed to occupational exposure 19.2% of the time.
In support of Healthy Lung Month, let’s raise awareness about the rapid escalation of lung disease in the United States.
The notion that harmful air pollutants exist only outdoors is false. Some pollutants occurring in the home can be more harmful than those commonly encountered outdoors. Modern homes harbor many sources of respiratory irritation, but it’s not terribly difficult to lung-proof your home. Some common lung irritants found indoors are lead, formaldehyde, radon, cleaning agent vapors, and fire-retardants. Natural pollutants also make their way into the home, including pet dander, dust mites, and mold. Here are a few simple ways the people, especially those with lung disease, can avoid these lung damaging agents.
- Clean the Air:Buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce lead, chemical build-up, and allergens such as pet dander in the home. Follow this step by mopping with a microfiber mop to soak up any leftover particles.
- Green Your Space:Fill your place with plants! Indoor plants help purify the air, removing toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene. Spider plants and aloe vera plants are good choices for the home.
- Go Natural: Fragrances in cleaning products, laundry detergents, and air fresheners can all damage the lungs opt for fragrance-free whenever possible.
- Test for Radon: Make sure your home has a radon detector. This colorless, odorless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States today.