Protect Your Lungs, Protect Your Life

Protect Your Lungs, Protect Your Life

Protect Your Lungs, Protect Your Life

Anything you breathe in can harm your lungs. The dangers can be at home, outside or at work. But there are also many ways you can protect your lungs and your health.

The American Lung Association says air pollution, secondhand smoke and chemicals used at home or at work can cause or worsen lung disease.

What to Avoid Outdoors

The American Lung Association offers tips for protecting you and your family when you’re outside:

  • Check daily air pollution forecasts. The color-coded forecasts show when air is not healthy.
  • Limit the time your family spends outdoors when pollution levels are high. Try to avoid exercising or doing chores outdoors until levels are safer.
  • Don’t exercise near high-traffic zones. Vehicle traffic increases air pollution up to a third of a mile away.
  • Don't burn wood or trash.
  • Use hand-powered or electric lawn tools.

Wildfire Risk
It’s also vital to protect your lungs from wildfire smokeleaving site icon Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine bits from burning trees and plants, buildings, and other materials. These gases and particles can travel many miles away from the fire.

Wildfire smoke can make anyone sick. But some people are at higher risk, including those with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or heart disease. Children and pregnant women also have higher risk.

If you live in an area at risk for wildfire, learn the steps you can take to protect your health and safety leaving site icon before, during and after wildfires.

Signs of Trouble Indoors

There are many causes of indoor air pollution:

  • Fuel burning appliances like wood stoves
  • Building materials
  • Furniture
  • Cleaners and other common household and personal care products
  • Excess moisture
  • AC and heating systems
  • Radon, pesticides and other outdoor pollutants that have gotten inside

Learn the signs of indoor air hazards:

  • Odd odors
  • Stale or stuffy air
  • Lack of air movement
  • Dirty or broken heating or air conditioning
  • Damaged chimneys
  • Too much dampness
  • Mold and mildew
  • Negative health reactions after remodeling, buying new furniture or using household products
  • Feeling healthier outside the home

Take an interactive tour leaving site icon from the Environmental Protection Agency to learn more about specific indoor risks and how to protect yourself from them.

Maintain Your Total Health to Protect Your Lungs

Staying in good overall health also helps protect your lungs. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says these steps can help protect your lungsleaving site icon

  • Don’t smoke or vape and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular physical activity.
  • Limit your exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution.
  • Prevent flu and pneumonia. Get your annual flu shot. And see if your doctor recommends a pneumonia vaccine for you.
Sources: 10 Tips to Protect Yourself From Unhealthy Air, leaving site icon American Lung Association, 2020; Indoor Air Can Cause Health Problems, leaving site icon University of Rochester Medical Center; Protect Yourself From Wildfire Smoke, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2022; National Disasters and Severe Weather: Wildfire, leaving site icon CDC, 2022; How to Keep Your Lungs Healthy, leaving site icon National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 2022; Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)leaving site icon Environmental Protection Agency, 2021