Tag Archives: Pollutants

Occupational and Environmental Chemicals linked to Lung Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Hazard warning_safetyscene.co.ukTobacco smoking and passive smoking are well-known contributors to lung cancer. However, an overlooked risk factor is stemmed from cancer-causing substances in the workplace, communities or larger environment, and even at home. Vehicular smoke, industrial materials, toxic chemicals, fumes and exhaust are all kinds of environmental pollutants. The question is – at what level are you exposed to?

Everyday exposure in the workplace is a serious concern, because the exposure to harmful substances at high levels and over a long period of time can be a lethal threat to your health. Today, I’m helping you understand what common occupational substances may increase your risk of lung cancer, and how you can protect yourself and your family.

First, what to raise your awareness?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified several occupational materials/agents as lung carcinogens or possible carcinogens to human. Numerous research has established the link between an increased risk of lung cancer and excessive exposure to common occupational materials.

Occupational and/or environmental substances associated with lung cancer include:

  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Chromium
  • Formaldehyde
  • Nickel
  • Arsenic
  • Silica
  • Coal gasification
  • Tars
  • Soot
  • Diesel fumes
  • Radiation

For the general population, although the exposure levels to most of these agents are likely insufficient to produce serious health damage, it is wise to become informed and cautious.

Second, how to protect you from potential lung carcinogens?

Top Ten Tips:

  1. Keep informed, especially know what you are exposed to in the workplace and what you can do to protect yourself.
  2. Always wear protective clothing, items and equipment as occupational safety requires.
  3. Read the labels and follow the instructions. This is important whenever and wherever you handle chemical-containing products.
  4. Stick to the rules or regulations on dealing with hazard wastes.
  5. Make sure that your employer is aware of certain job-related potential danger to human health and have protective measurements in place.
  6. Take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking potential toxins from the bottom of the shoes around your home.
  7. If necessary, separate your work clothing from those of the family when doing laundry.
  8. Take precautions about the chemicals you use in your home.
  9. Check radon levels in your house. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines “high exposure” to radon as its level being 4 pCi/L and above.
  10. Avoid or limit unnecessary radiation exposure.

These practices are particularly imperative to people who are already at risk for lung cancer, including, but not limited to, those

  • with previous lung diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and chlamydia pneumonia
  • with a family history of lung cancer
  • with lowered immunity
  • Smokers and second-hand (or passive) smokers

Finally, early detection is a key. If you experience any symptoms such as frequent cough, breathing difficulty, wheezing, chest pain, or unexplained weight loss, consult your doctor.

If this is helpful, please share. Thanks.

Image credit: By Safetyscene.co.uk


Breathe Clean

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

EarthDay_153704793_FlikNowadays, when we take a deep breath, we are likely to be breathing in polluted air. Compared to the air in Beijing, which is typically smoggy, the air in the United States may seem relatively clean. However, there can be many invisible pollutants in our air, including toxic substances, radiation, and infectious agents. Numerous pollutants may also appear in our water and soil.

Today, on Earth Day, let us reflect on how our environment plays a vital role in public health. This includes our risk of contracting cancer, because environmental factors such as exposure to air pollution have been found to be associated with this dread disease. This of course includes smoking, both active and passive, since smoking is one of the most common causes of cancer, accounting for about 30% of cancer deaths in the United States due to exposure to cancer-causing substances in tobacco products.

Other sources of environmental contaminants that you should be aware of include:
-          hazards from the gaseous, vapor, and particulate phases of the atmosphere
-          radiation
-          sun rays (UVA/UVB)
-          bacteria and viruses that are pathogens
-          chemicals, toxins, and carcinogens that may be hidden in your food, your cleaning and other household products, and in the air and water in your home and workplace

Pollutants are all around us, many of them man made. One danger of these pollutants is that they can cause DNA damage, which is known to be a critical initial event in the development of cancer. It is disturbing to learn from Asia studies that children in major cities of developing countries have an increased risk for cancer as a consequence of exposure to genotoxic substances in their environment. Evidently, factors outside the body change the components and systems inside the body over time.

Many of these cancers can be prevented by environmental control and lifestyle choices. Making wise choices for all of our family is crucial because we have a responsibility to safeguard not only our own health, but that of our children.

I hope we all strive to make every day an “Unpolluted Air Day”.  A healthy earth with a healthy environment promotes healthy living for each and every one of us.

Image Credit: By jurvetson