Cancer Causing Toxins In the Air Around You: How to Avoid

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You are breathing in toxins which may cause cancers every day, more than you might have expected.


Health problems caused by toxins in the air include cancer, respiratory irritation, nervous system problems, and birth defects. Some symptoms may occur very soon after a person inhales a toxic air pollutant. Others, however, may only appear after years of exposure to the toxic air pollutant. Cancer is an example of a delayed health problem.



The story of Ann Singley


Ann Singley, a 33 mother with a youngest child of only 3, was diagnosed as stage III breast cancer after she discovered a hard lump in her breast in 2007.


At about that time, scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had just begun a 10-year study on the risks of ethylene oxide, a chemical used for sterilizing medical products and is released directly in the air.


The result revealed in 2016 astonished everyone: ethylene oxide was far more dangerous than scientists had realized before. The agency moved it from a list of chemicals that probably could cause cancer to another list of those that definitely caused cancer.


That is exactly the chemical Singley had breathed in from a chemical company which sterilizes medical devices located just half a mile from her home.



Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) made maps which show the levels of released chemicals where health risks begin to rise. In Covington, concentrations of ethylene oxide in neighborhoods around the plant range from 17 to 97 times of the acceptable area concentration (AAC).


“So what do I need to do? Move?” Said Cargile, 59, living in Covington with her two grandsons.



However, ethylene oxide is not the only toxin in the air.


Indoor and outdoor air pollution


People are exposed to great danger of having cancer and other diseases. Even if you live far away from factories, medical companies, and other places which may release toxins, you are still in danger because of diesel engine exhaust, solvents, metals, and dust.


Outdoor air pollution


The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization, has classified outdoor air pollution as a cancer-causing agent (carcinogen) which can increase the risks of lung cancer and bladder cancer.


Many components of outdoor air have been classified as carcinogen, but this is the first time that outdoor air pollution is considered as carcinogen as a whole.


Another component was also identified as a carcinogen: particulate matter, which is a combination of extremely small solid particles and liquid droplets that are found in the air including dust, smoke, and chemicals.



“The air we breathe is filled with cancer-causing substances.” Said Kurt Straif, head of the IARC Monographs Section.


According to the IARC, the predominant artificial sources of outdoor air pollution include:


Stationary power generation
Industrial and agricultural emissions
Residential heating and cooking


Indoor air pollution


Sources of indoor air pollutants include:


Molds and bacteria
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) released from furnishings and building materials
Chemical fumes from paints and solvents
Chemicals from cleaning products
Outdoor air pollutants
Cigarette and tobacco smoke
Animal hair and dander
Dust mites
Combustion gases
Carbon monoxide
Gases, including Radon, seeping in from foundations



Research has indicated that the indoor air in our homes, offices or other buildings may be more polluted than the outdoor air. Considering that most people spend about 90% time indoor, it’s essential to lower the pollution in our living environment.


Symptoms of air pollution


If you have these symptoms, pay attention to the possibility of breathing in toxic air.


Worsening asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems
Headaches and nausea
Shortness of breath
Sinus congestion, sneezing and cough
Eye, skin, nose and throat irritations
Memory loss, dizziness, fatigue and depression


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These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.

Avoid outdoor and indoor air pollution


To prevent air pollution, the best way is to do what you can do. For example, using public transportations to avoid car emissions. This is a hard and long way to go, but in the end, we will get the reward.


Avoid toxins in the outdoor air


Get the reports from the environmental protection agency for your area. You can get a map of your area and a report about the quality of the air from the environmental protection website. Avoid going out or wear a mask when the air is not very good.


Be aware of what is happening in your area. Industrial and commercial processes play a vital role in air pollution. Know it when there are industrial operations near your area and be aware of what you need to pay attention to.


Check how close your new home is to pollution producers when moving to a new address.



Avoid toxins in the indoor air


Things like cleaning products, makeup, carpets, synthetic fragrances, smoking, dust, mold, dry cleaned clothes, furniture, paints and computers are all affecting the air you breathe at home. There are several ways to make the indoor air better.


Use homemade cleaning products


Do you know that if you clean your home with commercial sprays, wipes, scrubs and polishes, you’re actually putting toxins into you home environment instead of removing them?


You can use these natural cleaning products to replace the commercial ones: baking soda, white vinegar, lemons, castile soap, and coconut oil. Baking soda and white vinegar are the most frequently used natural cleaning products.



Change your filters frequently


Filters in your ducts and air conditioners collect particles and toxins in the air. Replacing these filters on a regular basis will help avoid harms from them. You can check the recommendations from the manufacturers, or hire professionals to clean for you.


Use a quality HEPA air filter


HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. HEPA filters can help remove toxins from the inside of your home.



Keep some plants at your home for air purification


NASA suggests that you maintain 15 plants for a 2,000 square-foot home, which means 1 plant for about every 133 square-foot.


The Areca Palm is one of the most popular plants. It is suitable for the indoor environment and releases a large amount of moisture into the air.



Snake or Mother-in-law’s Tongue is also a very common plant. It is also known as “the bedroom plant” as it converts CO2 into oxygen during the night, when most plant convert oxygen into CO2.


The Gerbera Daisy is a well-known decorative plant. Its air filtering properties are impressive, and it is effective at removing benzene and trichloroethylene from the air. Like Mother-in-law’s Tongue, the plant also releases oxygen during the night and can help you sleep better.

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