YMCA of Greater Erie

The health of our families take priority over everything else! The American Heart Association has deemed October as Healthy Lung Month, emphasizing the importance of taking care of your lungs and respiratory system all year long. It’s surprising to find out that our indoor air can be just as unsafe as the air we’re exposed to in the public and outdoors. Here’s a few ways to improve the health of your lungs through simple adjustments in your everyday routine.

Weekly Cleaning

Creating a chore chart allows everyone to be accountable in the home. After all, a clean home is a happy home. Assign household tasks for everyone to perform on a weekly basis as pollutants are always hiding in the air. Simple habits like dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, and wiping down furniture will positively impact the health of the home. People are more prone to experience breathing issues indoors during the winter months because windows are closed, heat gets trapped, and pollutants build up. This is especially true for adults and young children who suffer from asthma. Vacuuming carpets and cleaning up dust mites or pet dander can result in easier breathing and a healthier future.

Limit your DIY Projects

If you have lived in your house for a while, it’s natural to want to reinvent and refresh your home. Hiring a professional can become expensive and long-winded but may require the touch of an expert. One serious toxin that could be lurking in your home is asbestos. Knocking down walls or ripping up flooring tiles can disturb the fibrous mineral. Due to its microscopic size, asbestos can get trapped in the body’s organs. Asbestos has been proven to cause multiple lung issues such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and even the rarer cancer, mesothelioma, which affects the lungs in up to 90 percent of all diagnoses.

Carbon Monoxide

Make sure your carbon monoxide (CO) detector is up and running properly. According to the CDC, roughly 400 people are killed each year from lung poisoning, and a staggering 25,000 people become sick from it. Due to this gas being odorless and tasteless, it’s very difficult to know when your family might be exposed to it. Anytime a material is burned, CO is emitted into the air putting you and your family at risk. Examples of this include your dryer machine, gas stoves and ovens, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, and any form of fire burning- i.e. fireplace, wood burning stove, pellet stove.


Radon is a very dangerous radioactive gas that forms in the ground. Radon moves up from the soil seeping into various cracks and holes in the foundation of the home. The colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas can be unknowingly present in the home at any time. Excluding cigarette smoking and secondhand contact with smoke, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among Americans, nearing close to 21,000 deaths a year. Have your home tested or do it yourself by purchasing a kit as cheap as 20 dollars. If the radon levels in your home exceed four pCi/L, call a professional immediately.

Activities to Keep Your Lungs Healthy

When the season changes and the temperature drops it’s easy to fall into the couch potato habit. However, there’s a lot of fun alternatives to staying indoors while keeping your lungs active. Take the family to an open swim, try out new classes at your local YMCA, or even have a family bowling night.

Don’t let the cold scare you! 30 minutes of moderate exercise has many benefits for your lungs and your immune system. Taking initiative to care for your lungs now can have long lasting benefits for you and your family down the line.


Editors Note: Article contributed by Emily Walsh, Mesothelioma