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Breathe Carefully
Fotografía: Studiomill
Can you believe it? It’s been ten years since the World Trade Center was destroyed. And it continues to cause damage. Firefighters who took part in the heroic evacuation of 20,000 plus people from the area were exposed to toxic dust that they said “smelled different.” Since then, doctors monitoring the firefighters have noticed a 19% increase in cancer among them. They are paying a long-term price for saving people. The Lancet study noted the increase during the first seven years after 9/11.

You may not be a firefighter heroically saving lives like those at Ground Zero, but you might still want to take caution or you may be fighting to save your own life. Breathing toxins is nothing to cough at. It causes at least 150,000 deaths a year in the U.S. Lung cancer is treatable but most people who suffer this ailment only live about five years. The number one toxin is tobacco smoke. Even secondhand smoke causes at least 3,000 deaths a year. Tobacco smoke contains at least 60 different chemicals that cause cancer.


The second most common toxin that kills is radon. This radioactive gas cannot be seen or smelled. It is formed in the soil and rocks and is emitted as a gas as these break down. It shows up in basements, crawlspaces, and foundations and gets trapped in homes with poor ventilation. Lung cells are damaged by radon and next to smoking it is the number two killer. Simple tests can be purchased and used by homeowners and modifications can be made in your home to remove radon using a ventilation system.

You can avoid exposure to most toxins that will harm your lungs, but taking care of this important organ will help you breathe more easily. Eating well, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water and breathing deeply all help to promote lung health. Avoid cigarette smoking or breathing second hand smoke. Wear face masks when doing work that might involve paint dust, asbestos, or other toxins when doing work around your home like sanding surfaces. Also limit exposure to pesticides, aerosol sprays, and chemical fumes. If it makes you cough, it is probably not good for your lungs.

The men and women who risked their lives to enter the World Trade Center towers to save people deserve respect. They chose to be exposed to a harsh environment in order to help others. Some people have higher risks because of their work, but all of us should do what we can to lower our risks. So, put on your walking shoes and go for a walk in the fresh air, and breathe carefully.

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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