November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which has provided an opportunity for us to share a series of posts on our blog with vital information about the risks and causes of lung cancer. In this post, we will be discussing some of the actions that individuals can take to decrease the risk of developing lung cancer.
Avoid Toxic Carcinogens
In a previous post, we discussed some of the toxic substances that cause lung cancer - the most common being tobacco smoke, asbestos, and radon. The best way to decrease anyone's risk of developing deadly diseases, such as lung cancer is to avoid these substances. It is nearly impossible to avoid one hundred percent of all toxic chemicals, but there are steps that you can take to decrease exposures - including awareness of what substances are dangerous and where they can be found.
Tobacco Smoke: All forms of tobacco smoke can be harmful, including firsthand, secondhand, and third hand.
- If you are a smoker, the first step is to quit smoking. Although heavy smokers continue to be at risk even years after they have quit, and it is recommended that they get regular screenings.
- Keep your house and car smoke-free. Do not allow friends or loved ones who do smoke to do it in areas where you spend a lot of time or around you in general.
Asbestos: A naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral once used in many products due to its strength and ability to resist heat, as well as insulate.
- The majority of asbestos exposures happen in the workplace. Ensure that you were not or are not being exposed to asbestos in the workplace without property safety gear.
- If you were exposed to asbestos, take safety precautions with the clothing you were wearing at the time. It could be contaminated with asbestos fibers and is a hazard to you and others who come in contact with it.
- It is fairly common to find asbestos in older homes. Before starting any new renovations, it is important to know if your home was build using asbestos-containing products. A certified professional may need to be hired.
Radon: This colorless, odorless gas can form naturally in any area.
- Most people are exposed to radon within their own homes. Radon detection kits can be ordered online to monitor levels in your home and determine safety.
- Similar to asbestos, higher levels of radon exposure typically occur in the workplace - especially for those who work underground, such as miners, or people working around uranium processing factories.
Diesel Fumes: A pervasive airborne contaminant in areas where diesel-powered equipment is used.
- Just like radon and asbestos, excessive exposure to diesel fumes typically occurs in the workplace. Higher risk occupations include railroad workers, miners, heavy machinery operators, and truck drivers.
- As a general rule, inhaling chemicals or dust of any kind can potentially cause damage to cells in the lungs and eventually lead to lung cancer.
Making the Workplace Safer
It is important to note that many exposures to these carcinogens have happened (and still are happening) in the workplace. This means that a significant number of them could have been prevented. The dangers associated with these substances, in many cases, were common knowledge of industry leaders, but they kept that knowledge hidden from workers and the general public. Slowly, but surely, government agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are putting regulations in place to keep employees safe while working around these carcinogens. Unfortunately, we see many cases where these regulations were not followed or enforced. If you were exposed to a harmful substance in the workplace and diagnosed with lung cancer or another disease caused by these substances, you should speak with an attorney to find out if you are eligible for work-related injuries.