Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the U.S. Every year, more Americans pass away from lung cancer than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. Lung cancer can develop in any part of the lung; however, in most cases, it starts in the outer edges of the lung near the air sacks and spreads.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are approximately 236,000 new lung cancer cases and 130,000 lung cancer deaths every year. While lung cancer can develop at any age, the majority of lung cancer patients are aged 65 or older.
Causes of Lung Cancer in the Home
Our homes are built to provide us comfort, safety and security; however, your home can also be a breeding ground for dangerous pollutants that could result in lung cancer. Radon, air pollutants and asbestos could be living in your home undetected, causing serious health hazards to you and your family. Learn about each of these cancer-causing irritants and how you can mitigate them in your home.
Radon is a radioactive gas caused by the breakdown of radioactive elements like uranium, thorium, and radium that are found in rocks and soil. This gas is colorless, odorless and flavorless, making it impossible to detect without proper testing. When large amounts of radon are breathed in the risk of developing lunch cancer significantly increases.
Where is radon found in the home? Radon can be found in homes of any size, shape or age. It’s most commonly found in gaps in the foundation, walls, or floors of the home, but it can also be found in construction materials or water drawn from radon-contaminated wells. Homes built on soil that has a high concentration of radioactive elements tend to have higher radon levels.
When radon decays rapidly, it releases small radioactive particles into the air we breathe. These particles harm the lung's lining cells when inhaled and prolonged exposure to these particles increases the risk of lung cancer.
The only way to know if your home has elevated levels of radon is to have it tested by a professional home inspector. Radon testing by qualified WIN Home Inspectors is quick, easy and can give you peace of mind. If radon is detected through testing, mitigating measures can be taken to help protect your family from harm. You can also take precautionary measures by sealing all cracks and openings in the foundation and installing a ventilation system in your home. By taking these simple steps, you can help protect your family from the dangers of lung cancer.
Air pollution is the contamination of the air due to substances that are harmful to human health. If you live in a city or close to heavily trafficked roadways, you may be at a higher risk of developing respiratory issues such as lung cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), indoor air pollution is responsible for 17% of all adult lung cancer deaths.
So how does air pollution occur in your home? It can be created by a variety of daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and operating your HVAC system. These activities all release chemicals or particles into the air, polluting the air you breathe inside your home. Numerous pulmonary and respiratory issues, including cancer, may result from frequent exposure.
Unsure how clean the air you breathe is? Have you had an air quality test by a trained and certified WIN home inspector? All WIN home inspectors are equipped with the tools necessary to examine, evaluate, and improve the air within your home.
Those who have or have had frequent exposure to asbestos, such as working in mines, mills, textile factories and shipyards, have an increased risk for developing lung cancer. This risk significantly increases in those who smoke. Inhaling asbestos fibers can be dangerous, as they can get trapped in lung tissue and inflict long-term damage. If there is a chance that you could be exposed to asbestos while working, you should take the appropriate safety precautions and wear protective gear.
Even if you are exposed to asbestos in your workplace, you could still be exposed in your home. Asbestos can be found in your flooring, ceiling tiles, roof shingles, insulation, ductwork, sheet vinyl, cement, and wallboard. Asbestos is more commonly found in older homes as building materials were previously constructed differently. A licensed professional should test your home to determine if asbestos is present.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
While most people don’t experience symptoms until the cancer has spread, the most common signs of lung cancer include:
- Persistent or worsening cough
- Coughing up spit or phlegm that is red or rust-colored
- Chest pain that frequently gets worse when you cough, laugh or take deep breaths
- Reduced appetite
- Unaccounted-for weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Frequent infections like bronchitis and pneumonia
- Newly developing wheezing
This National Lung Cancer Awareness Day, protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of lung cancer. Have your home inspected for radon, radon in water, air pollution and asbestos to decrease the risk of developing lunch cancer and gain peace of mind in your home. Don’t wait, call your local WIN home inspector today and schedule your inspection!