Having healthy lungs is vital for overall well-being. The quality of air we breathe indoors can greatly impact lung health. Indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air due to various pollutants that can accumulate inside a home. Creating a lung-friendly home environment involves minimizing exposure to indoor air pollutants and irritants. This can help reduce the risk of developing respiratory conditions like asthma, allergies, and even lung cancer.
Implementing simple changes can go a long way in promoting healthy lungs for you and your family, some of which we will discuss below.
Test for Indoor Hazards
Some indoor materials can harm your lungs. Radon is one of them, and it’s a gas that comes from the ground and can enter your home through cracks. Breathing in radon can increase your risk of lung cancer, especially if you don’t smoke. To check if your home has radon, you can use a test kit placed in the lowest part of your home. If the levels are 4 pCi/L or higher, you should take action by improving ventilation and sealing cracks.
Another indoor offender is asbestos, a tough material used in older buildings. Breathing in asbestos can damage your lungs and increase your risk of cancer. It can be found in insulation, ceilings, floors, and pipes. If your home — especially if it was built before the 1980s, might have asbestos — get it inspected by professionals. Don’t touch it yourself. Learn more about asbestos and lung health at www.lungcancergroup.com. If asbestos is found, hire experts to remove it safely.
Having good air in your home is important for your lungs. Sometimes, homes are all closed up, and the air inside gets old and not so great. But there are easy things you can do to prevent that.
First, open your windows sometimes during the day. This brings fresh air inside and takes away the old air. You can also use fans, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. They move the air around.
In the kitchen and bathroom, it’s extra important to have fans. When you cook or shower, it can make the air wet and not smell nice. The fans in these rooms send that foul-smelling air outside, which is much better. Make sure the fans have a tube that goes outside, not just in a circle.
Try to let fresh air in for at least 10 minutes, three times a day. But don’t open the windows if there’s bad stuff in the air outside, like pollution from cars or construction. Good ventilation means better air for your lungs.
Control Mold and Moisture
Inhaling mold spores can trigger allergic reactions and asthma flare-ups. Mold thrives in damp areas of the home with excess moisture. The key is controlling moisture to prevent mold growth. Start by fixing any water leaks, drips or flooding issues promptly.
Make sure to maintain indoor relative humidity below 50%. A humidifier can add needed moisture in dry atmospheres, so maybe invest in one. Run exhaust fans, especially when showering or cooking. Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air.
If mold does develop, act quickly. Clean small areas with water, mild detergent, and a stiff brush. Using a HEPA vacuum helps contain spores when cleaning. Always wear gloves and a mask for protection. For larger areas or hidden mold, consider hiring a professional mold remediation company. They have powerful tools to clean and kill mold while containing the spores. Prevent mold from returning by addressing the underlying moisture issue.
Certain houseplants are excellent natural air purifiers. They help remove pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the indoor air. The best choices are aloe vera, English ivy, peace lilies, spider plants, bamboo palms, and snake plants. The more plants, the better – aim for at least one plant per 100 square feet of home space.
Position the plants in rooms where you spend the most time. Keep them away from heating and cooling equipment as well as walls, which can restrict airflow. Avoid plants that aggravate allergies, like orchids and flowering plants. Water the plants as needed, prune them back when overgrown, and clean the leaves regularly with a damp cloth. Rotate the plants occasionally so all sides are exposed to light. Houseplants are an easy way to incorporate natural air filtration in your home.
Use Air Purifiers
Indoor air can contain many microscopic pollutants that are inhaled deep into the lungs. Air purifiers with HEPA filters help capture and remove these pollutants from the air. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and these filters can remove over 99% of particles like dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and smoke. This makes the indoor air less irritating for the lungs.
Look for air purifiers that also contain activated carbon filters. The carbon adsorbs odors, gases like VOCs, and chemical fumes that can bother sensitive lungs. Activated carbon also helps remove radon gas. When selecting an air purifier, choose one properly sized for the room area. A too-small purifier won’t be effective while an oversized one wastes energy.
Proper placement also matters – don’t put the purifier right against a wall or near pollution sources. Maintain the purifier regularly by replacing filters as recommended by the manufacturer. Air purifiers run 24/7 to actively clean the indoor air.
Pick Low-VOC Materials
Many common household products contain VOCs – volatile organic compounds – that can irritate the lungs. VOCs are released as gases from certain solids or liquids. Products like paint, varnish, wax, glues, cleaning supplies, air fresheners and scented candles all frequently contain VOCs. Exposure can cause immediate eye, nose and throat irritation. Long-term exposure may potentially lead to respiratory damage or aggravate conditions like asthma.
When possible, choose low-VOC or VOC-free alternatives. There are now many no-VOC and low-VOC options available. For new furniture or renovations, allow products time to off-gas in a well-ventilated area before installing in living spaces. Ventilate the area during and after using any chemical products. Limiting VOCs improves indoor air quality and reduces lung irritation.
Prohibit Smoking Indoors
Secondhand smoke is extremely detrimental to lung health. The smoke released from burning cigarettes contains over 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which are known carcinogens. Secondhand smoke irritates and damages the lungs. Even brief exposure can trigger asthma attacks, allergic reactions, and long-term risks like lung cancer. Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects.
The only way to fully protect indoor air quality is to prohibit smoking inside your home and vehicles. Do not allow anyone to smoke indoors. Smoke residues linger in carpets, curtains, upholstery and clothing. Establish your home and cars as 100% smoke-free zones. Ask smokers to go outside well away from doors, windows and air intakes. Post no smoking signs if needed. Making your indoor spaces smoke-free improves lung health.
Vacuuming helps remove dust and allergen particles that would otherwise accumulate in carpets, drapes and soft furnishings. These microscopic particles can aggravate the lungs when inhaled. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is best since it traps over 99% of fine particles. This prevents them from circulating back into the air.
Target high-traffic areas and carpeting for frequent vacuuming. Aim to vacuum carpets and soft surfaces at least twice a week. Vacuum hard floor surfaces at least once a week as well. And make sure to regularly dust furniture, window treatments and decorative items to remove settled dust before it becomes airborne. Wearing a mask while cleaning can prevent inhaling stirred-up particles. See that you are keeping yourself safe.
Creating a lung-friendly home requires being mindful of indoor air quality. Test for radon, ventilate properly, control moisture and mold, use air purifying plants and filters, avoid chemical irritants, prohibit smoking indoors, vacuum diligently, limit fragrances, and maintain appliances properly.
Implementing small steps can reduce exposure to indoor pollutants and create a healthy home environment for the lungs. Protect yourself and your family by making your home a lung-friendly zone.