Damaging Your Lungs…without knowing it


Your lungs are one of your body’s most important organs. They deliver oxygen to the body while ridding it of carbon dioxide.


Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your lungs. The numerous chemicals in cigarette smoke damage your bronchial tubes, lungs, and the cilia in your respiratory tract. Fortunately, quitting smoking can improve breathing almost immediately, usually after only 72 hours of being cigarette-free.

Breathing secondhand smoke

Living with a smoker is also harmful to your lungs. Composed of nearly 4,000 chemicals, secondhand smoke damages your respiratory system. In addition to increasing your risk of developing lung cancer, secondhand smoke can also cause asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses.

To keep your lungs healthy, avoid contact with secondhand smoke and encourage the smokers around you to butt out for good.

Living with thirdhand smoke

You may not smoke, but did the previous occupants of your home indulge in the habit? Watch out for thirdhand smoke, especially if you have rugs in your house. Even though you may not smell it, thirdhand smoke can hang around in floors and walls for years and ultimately cause lung problems.

Before moving into a home that once belonged to a smoker, be sure to give it a thorough cleaning. The same goes for any furniture or clothes you may have acquired from a smoker.

Not exercising enough

Physical exercise doesn’t just help you stay in better shape—practicing a sport also increases your lung efficiency. As you exercise more frequently, your stronger muscles will need less oxygen, and you won’t become winded as quickly.

Exercising near a busy street or factory

Partaking in physical activity means taking in a larger amount of air. If the air you breathe is polluted, your lungs will absorb a larger amount of harmful chemicals. Stay away from factories, busy roads, and highways when you exercise. Try working out in green spaces instead.

Rarely dusting your home

Air containing too much dust can eventually harm your lungs and cause various respiratory tract infections. Prevent this by regularly cleaning your home. Dust your furniture, vacuum, and wash your floors and walls.

Frequently using a wood-burning fireplace

Warming up beside a wood-burning fireplace may be cozy on a winter day, but it can be hazardous to your lungs. Wood smoke contains numerous chemicals that irritate lungs and bronchial tubes and can put you a risk of developing several respiratory illnesses.

Reduce the harmful effects of wood smoke by always burning dry wood and keeping your fire small.

Not using the vent when showering

When you take a bath or shower, remember to turn on your ventilation fan. This simple habit minimizes the proliferation of mold. Usually appearing as small black spots, mold is harmful to the lungs, especially for people with asthma or allergies.

Renovating a home containing asbestos

Are you planning to renovate a home that contains asbestos? Leave it to the experts. Breathing in asbestos fibers, even a small amount, is particularly dangerous to the lungs. You risk developing a chronic pulmonary illness that may not appear until years later.

Never testing your home for radon

Are you familiar with radon? This radioactive gas is the second most common cause of lung cancer in Canada. Invisible and odorless, radon usually enters homes through cracks, pipes, and windows. The only way to know if your home has radon is to purchase a radon test (they are usually quite affordable).

If you find that your home has too much radon, hire a specialist to correct the problem.

Never going to the doctor

If you can’t remember the last time you saw your doctor, it’s probably time to make an appointment. Depending on your age and history, your doctor may have you undergo a few exams and screening tests to ensure that your lungs are healthy.

Don’t wait until you experience symptoms before seeing your doctor. Some respiratory illnesses are asymptomatic at first and early detection can save you lots of heartache later on.

Never cleaning your gas stove

In addition to increasing its lifespan, regularly maintaining your gas stove minimizes your risk of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) poisoning. NO2 inflames respiratory passages and increases the risk of hospitalization due to pulmonary illness. If you don’t know how to clean your appliance, ask a professional for help.

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Cooking without using an exhaust hood

No matter what kind of stove you have, fine particles are released into the air each time you cook. These pollutants irritate the lungs, which can lead to respiratory problems and asthma attacks. To purify the air in your home when you cook, use an exhaust hood with an exterior vent.

Never cleaning your humidifier

Humidifiers can be quite useful, especially in homes with dry air. To truly benefit from this device, however, it must be cleaned regularly.

If you rarely clean your humidifier, it may end up emitting bacteria and mold into the air. You’ll feel the effect of these irritants in your lungs first and, over time, you may develop a pulmonary illness.

Not drinking enough water

The human body is made mostly of water so it’s important to drink enough H2O to stay hydrated. If you don’t drink enough water, your organs, especially your lungs, will suffer.

In fact, insufficiently hydrated people develop thicker-than-average mucus. Breathing becomes more difficult, and the risk of respiratory problems increases.

Not washing your hands often enough

Did you know that 80 percent of the most common respiratory infections are spread by touch? To protect your lungs from such infections, wash your hands frequently.

You should, for example, wash your hands before and after eating. If you have a cold, you should wash your hands after blowing your nose or sneezing.

Using chemical paint

Wall paint that’s high in volatile organic compounds (VOC) can irritate the lungs. To minimize health risks, choose a natural paint that contains the fewest VOCs possible.

If you regularly work with high-VOC paint, wear appropriate protective equipment and make sure your workplace is well ventilated.

Keeping your windows closed

While keeping your windows closed shuts out noise, this practice may also be bad for your lungs, especially if your home does not have a central ventilation system. Opening your windows ventilates your home by expelling noxious air and lowers the risk of mold development by reducing humidity.

Using air purifiers

Using an air purifier certainly helps your home smell better, but your lungs may not benefit as much. These devices usually contain VOCs that impair respiratory passages. Even natural and unscented products aren’t risk-free. To purify the air in your home, open your windows. It’s easy and doesn’t cost a thing!

Using chemical housecleaning products

While cleaning products eliminate bacteria, they pose a danger to your lungs. In one study, researchers found that women who regularly used chemical agents to clean their homes experienced a decrease in lung capacity.

To reduce the effects of chemical products on your lungs, use natural or homemade cleaning products.

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