While it’s pretty obvious these days that the air we breathe contains loads of hidden cancer-causing toxins, what’s not as readily discussed is how you avoid them, especially when certain products, materials, and habits are such an important part of our daily life.
It’s a fact that our modern world contains thousands of toxins that damage our health and cause cancer. But it’s also a fact that there are several changes you can make to your environment to sharply reduce your risk.
Best of all, most of these changes are easy and affordable. So today, I’m going to share with you some of the best and easiest changes I recommend.
First off, your body has a pretty amazing defense system. You have your own filtration system that includes your kidneys, liver, intestines, and sweat glands to rid your body of poisons before they damage your cells and cause cancer.
Still, if you can eliminate toxins from your environment—especially from the air you breathe—before they even reach those organs, you’ll have a better chance of preventing cancer.
Cleaning your air
The most important place to start is the air inside your home, as research shows it can be up to five times more toxic than the air you breathe outside. This is especially true during wintertime, when you’re less likely to have windows open.
The causes of air pollution may surprise you. Inadequate ventilation is a leading offender. Other causes are cancer-causing plastic materials, building supplies, chemical cleaners, and synthetic fibers used within your home.
But instead of worrying, here’s what to do instead:
Top 3 ways to quickly improve your air quality
#1: Test for radon.
Radon is a natural gas that comes from deep inside the earth. It can contain radium and uranium, and exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers and the second-leading cause of lung cancer overall.
You can get a simple radon test for less than ten bucks from a home improvement store or from Amazon. If you’re about to buy a house or build a house on a plot of land, do a radon test first. Some experts recommend you do two tests to get an average, because levels fluctuate. But it’s not uncommon to have high radon levels – one in 15 homes will test high for radon.
If your radon levels test consistently high, you can start with a few easy changes. Seal cracks in your foundation and improve your home’s natural ventilation by creating room pressurization with fans.
You can also hire someone to install a radon mitigation system (or do it yourself), which includes a vent pipe and fan. It’s simple and low-tech. These systems collect radon gas from under your foundation and vent it outside your home.
#2. Get rid of mold.
Most of us don’t think of mold as an air problem, since it generally grows on surfaces and appears to stay on those surfaces. Don’t be fooled. Mold and mildew can thrive in an indoor setting if left untreated, and mold spores may float in the air around where it grows – especially black mold – and be spread throughout the house by your climate control system.
Poor-quality household air is a serious problem. Household mold, for example, is one of the most common overlooked causes of dementia. People who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have found out instead they were living in a mold-infested house. Mold inhaled in small bits over a long period of time has been linked to multiple health problems, including scarring of the lungs that can lead to cancer. So, it’s worth taking the time to clean it up. The key is to remove it before it spreads and becomes a bigger problem.
If it’s a visible mold problem on a hard surface in your kitchen or bath, you can use undiluted white vinegar to clean it up. A cup of bleach diluted in a gallon of water is an option if you need a stronger treatment, but I recommend starting with the vinegar to avoid the fumes of the bleach if you can.
While cleaning, wear a mask, goggles, and gloves that extend to the middle of your forearm. This is simply because as you clean, you’ll be disturbing the mold spores and sending them into the air, so it’s worth making sure you don’t get any on or in your body.
You can take easy steps to prevent mold from growing in the first place by running the bathroom fan or opening a window when you take a shower, so indoor moisture quickly dries. If your home’s overall level of moisture is high, you can run a dehumidifier, especially during wetter months.
You’ll also want to be sure your gutters and downspouts properly drain away from your home and repair any plumbing leaks as soon as they’re discovered.
#3. Let furniture, building materials, and paint “off-gas”
The problem with a lot of the cheaper, manufactured furniture pieces and building materials such as flooring is that they’re made with various chemicals. For example, the foam in furniture cushions and carpets could contain VOCs, or volatile organic chemicals. And the glue holding wood particle board together is made with formaldehyde.
These and other chemicals are known carcinogens to the human body, and substantial exposure over time may raise your risk for diseases like cancer.
Does that mean you should strip out the flooring in your house and get all new furniture? You might be able to avoid it if you’re not excessively sensitive to the chemicals. If they actually make you sick now – forget about cancer years from now –then you may have some tough choices to make.
And I can tell you from experience this is common. If you have some mystery symptoms that you’re unable to solve no matter what you try, it may be time to consider the air in your home as the source.
Even if you don’t suffer immediate and obvious symptoms, when the time comes to get any new household product, furniture or lay down new floor – or for that matter to move to another house — natural and organic is always best. Buying used materials is a second-best option, because then whatever you buy has likely already had time to air out its gases.
But if buying natural or used isn’t practical, or is too expensive, take measures to let the new materials “off-gas” for a stretch. If you have new carpet, this could mean leaving the windows open with a fan blowing the air out every day for several days. If you’ve bought a new mattress, consider leaving it in your garage, out of its plastic wrapping, for a week to let it air out.
It’s not a perfect solution, but this does eliminate a substantial amount of gases from new purchases.
Natural fixes worth exploring
Other measures you can take to improve your indoor air quality include:
- stocking your house with houseplants to serve as a natural filtration system,
- being mindful to buy candles that are organic and are scented with essential oils,
- prohibiting smoking in or near your home,
- keeping a carbon monoxide detector in good working condition in your home,
- investing in a quality HEPA air filter for your heating and air conditioning system, or other stand-alone HEPA air purifiers to use in individual rooms.
Keep in mind these tips are only meant to help aid you in your goal to avoid or eliminate airborne toxins that lead to cancer. If you take even just a few of these preventive steps, you’ll be able to decrease the airborne toxins in your home in a matter of days and improve the health of your lungs and give your body the best chance of avoiding cancer.
- “Can Mold Cause Cancer?” By Ann Pietrangelo on March 25, 2019 for Healthline.https://www.healthline.com/health/can-mold-cause-cancer
- “Reducing Radon in Your Home.”From the KSU National Radon Program Services.https://sosradon.org/reducing-radon-in-your-home
- “So, Your Home Has High Radon Levels. Now What?”From the American Lung Association, 14 January 2019.https://www.lung.org/blog/high-radon-levels
- “The Indoor Air Quality Epidemic and 6 Natural Solutions.”By Annie Price, 2 September 2018.https://draxe.com/health/indoor-air-quality-natural-solutions/