Date Published: 07/30/2020 [Source]
Aug. 1 is World Lung Cancer Day, and the American Lung Association is encouraging everyone to educate themselves on environmental risk factors and prevention through early screening.
Lung cancer can affect anyone, and it remains the most common and deadly cancer worldwide. The disease is responsible for approximately one in five deaths globally and accounts for over 2 million cases annually.
Taking steps to avoid exposure to dangerous substances and environmental toxins can substantially decrease the risk of developing lung cancer and other diseases such as mesothelioma.
When asbestos-containing materials are damaged, the fibers escape as microscopic particles that pollute the air. Owners of older homes should be aware of asbestos-containing materials used in their houses.
The second-most common cause of lung cancer is also present within the home. Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that is radioactive. It is found in homes and commercial buildings across the U.S. The gas forms naturally in the ground after the radioactive decay of soil and rock.
Radioactive radon particles can become lodged in the lungs and damage cellular tissue, eventually causing cancer. Radon is responsible for approximately 20,000 lung cancer deaths annually, and smokers exposed to radon have a higher risk of developing lung cancer.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that one in 15 homes in America has elevated levels of radon gas. Testing for the gas is easily accessible through self-testing kits and recommended for homes with or without basements. Addressing elevated levels of radon can prevent lung cancer for everyone in the household.
Other lesser-known environmental causes of lung cancer include outdoor air pollution, such as engine exhaust, and silica dust resulting from the breakdown of construction materials.