If you follow my work, you know I talk a lot about environmental toxins and root cause issues affecting our health. This goes for lung health as well.
Lung dis-eases are some of the most common medical conditions in the world. Tens of millions of people have lung disease in the U.S. alone. Smoking, infections, environmental toxins, metals and pathogens can be at the root of lung dis-eases.
Your lungs are part of a complex eliminatory system, expanding and relaxing thousands of times each day to bring in oxygen and send out carbon dioxide. Lung dis-ease can happen when there are problems in any part of this system and other system, as everything is interconnected.
Lung Dis-eases Affecting the Airways
Your windpipe (trachea) branches into tubes called bronchi, which in turn become smaller tubes throughout your lungs. Dis-eases that can affect these airways include:
Asthma. Your airways are constantly inflamed and may spasm, causing wheezing and shortness of breath. Allergies, infections, or pollution can trigger asthma symptoms.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). With this lung condition, you can’t exhale the way you usually would, which causes trouble breathing.
Chronic bronchitis. This form of COPD brings a long-term wet cough.
Emphysema. Lung damage allows air to be trapped in your lungs in this form of COPD. Trouble blowing air out is its hallmark.
Acute bronchitis. This sudden infection of your airways is usually caused by a virus.
Cystic fibrosis. With this condition, you have trouble clearing mucus out of your bronchi. This leads to repeated lung infections.
Lung Diseases Affecting the Air Sacs (Alveoli)
Your airways branch into tiny tubes (bronchioles) that end in clusters of air sacs called alveoli. These air sacs make up most of your lung tissue. Lung diseases affecting your alveoli include:
Pneumonia. An infection of your alveoli, usually by bacteria or viruses, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Tuberculosis Pneumonia that slowly gets worse, caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Emphysema. This happens when the fragile links between alveoli are damaged. Smoking is the usual cause. (Emphysema also limits airflow, affecting your airways.)
Pulmonary edema. Fluid leaks out of the small blood vessels of your lung into the air sacs and the area around them. One form is caused by heart failure and back pressure in your lungs' blood vessels. In another form, injury to your lung causes the leak of fluid.
Lung cancer. It has many forms and may start in any part of your lungs. It most often happens in the main part of your lung, in or near the air sacs.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This is a severe, sudden injury to the lungs from a serious illness. COVID-19 is one example. Many people who have ARDS need help breathing from a machine called a ventilator until their lungs recover.
Pneumoconiosis. This is a category of conditions caused by inhaling something that injures your lungs. Examples include black lung disease from coal dust and asbestosis from asbestos dust.
Lung Diseases Affecting the Interstitium
The interstitium is the thin, delicate lining between your alveoli. Tiny blood vessels run through the interstitium and let gas transfer between the alveoli and your blood. Various lung diseases affect the interstitium:
Interstitial lung disease (ILD). This is a group of lung conditions that includes sarcoidosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and autoimmune disease.
Pneumonia and pulmonary edema can also affect your interstitium.
Lung Diseases Affecting Blood Vessels
The right side of your heart gets low-oxygen blood from your veins. It pumps blood into your lungs through the pulmonary arteries. These blood vessels can have diseases, as well.
Pulmonary embolism (PE). A blood clot (usually in a deep leg vein, called deep vein thrombosis) breaks off, travels to your heart, and gets pumped into your lungs. The clot sticks in a pulmonary artery, often causing shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels.
Pulmonary hypertension. Many conditions can cause high blood pressure in your pulmonary arteries. This can lead to shortness of breath and chest pain. If your doctor can’t find a cause, they’ll call it idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Lung Diseases Affecting the Pleura
The pleura is the thin lining that surrounds your lung and lines the inside of your chest wall. A tiny layer of fluid lets the pleura on your lung's surface slide along the chest wall with each breath. Lung diseases of the pleura include:
Pleural effusion. Fluid collects in the space between your lung and the chest wall. Pneumonia or heart failure usually causes this. Large pleural effusions can make it hard to breathe and may need to be drained.
Pneumothorax. Air may get into the space between your chest wall and the lung, collapsing the lung.
Mesothelioma. This is a rare form of cancer that forms on the pleura. Mesothelioma tends to happen several decades after you come into contact with asbestos.
Lung Diseases Affecting the Chest Wall
Your chest wall also plays an important role in breathing. Muscles connect your ribs to each other, helping your chest expand. Your diaphragm descends with each breath, also causing chest expansion. Diseases that affect your chest wall include:
Obesity hypoventilation syndrome. Extra weight on your chest and belly can make it hard for your chest to expand. This may cause serious breathing problems.
Neuromuscular disorders. You might have trouble breathing when the nerves that control your respiratory muscles don’t work the way they should. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and myasthenia gravis are examples of neuromuscular lung disease. (Source)
Root Cause Issues
As a Naturopath of 16 + years, I have learned that what is manifesting, is usually secondary to underlying causes. So if you have lung issues developing, please be sure to take a deep dive at what is happening behind the scenes, as everything about your lifestyle, diet, routines, thoughts and emotions and exposures are affecting how and what symptoms are manifesting.
I cannot stress this enough. If you do one thing for yourself and your family – please remove toxic chemicals/cleaners from your home as an excellent starting point for optimal health for your entire body and mind. Keep in mind all of this information affects our pets as well.
Environmental toxins are the #1 primary driver of dis-ease, period. Using standard cleaning products (Lysol, pine-sol, dollar store cleaners, comet, clorox, windex, mr. clean, swiffer, etc..) have the SAME adverse effects as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes each day.
YES, read that again. (Source 1, Source 2)
Did you know….
There are around 84,000 chemicals on the market, and we come into contact with many of them every single day. And the shocking fact is that only about 1 percent of them have been studied for safety. But most of them have been proven to be linked to dis-ease and hormone dis-regulation.
The FDA does NOT require companies that make household cleaning products to print a full list of ingredients on their packaging. So they can put ANYTHING they want in your products to make the most profit – anything.
The EPA ranks indoor air pollution among the top environmental dangers, and much of this pollution comes from common cleaning products (or what we’ll call “indoor pollutants”). Immediate effects of exposure to indoor pollutants can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as exacerbated symptoms of asthma and other respiratory illnesses +++ all of which I used to experience my whole life, thinking this is just what you have to endure to clean. Long-term effects include respiratory diseases, HORMONE issues, heart disease, and even the “c” word.
With all the discussion around immunity, cold/flu season, flu and CV19 vaccines, candles, folks using extra “germ killer” sprays and cleaners and sanitizers and masks and now wildfires in some parts of the country – these exposures greatly affect our lungs and entire systems.
- acetaldehyde. By products of yeast, petrochemical sensitivity
- courmarin. Asthma, hay fever
- gallic acid. Chronic sinus, universal reactor, in 85% of foods
- Potassium, etc
- infections in tissues, glands, etc..
- air fresheners & room sprays
- abrasive scrubs
- laundry detergent
- hand soaps/purifiers
- fabric softener/dryer sheets
- facial cleansers
- moisturizers & serums
- cologne & perfume
- carbon monoxide
- particulate matter (PM or soot)
- aldehydes and acid gases
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, toluene, styrene, metals and dioxins.
- The human experiment
- The devil we know
- The bleeding edge (for good measure)
Practitioners that Assess Root Causes
It's important to work with a practitioner who assesses your underlying root cause issues and imbalances. What I see clinically if someone has lung or respiratory concerns, it is imperative to assess their individual ROOT causes and correct those, for long and short term healing, as everyone's are unique to them.
Take Action. The Challenge
You are invited to take the “Toxins Out/Switch and Ditch” challenge by switching from using products containing unsafe or untested chemicals to products containing only nontoxic, biodegradable ingredients (some products labeled ‘green' aren't really safe – look for green certification labels).
- Gather every product used in your home and garden that contains untested or unsafe chemicals
- Dispose of these products at your local hazardous waste facility (and/or donate cleaning products to a local home cleaning service agency)
- Replace them, where necessary, with alternatives containing nontoxic and biodegradable ingredients
- Visit All Natural Home Cleaning Solutions for great ideas.
- Better Basics for the Home is a fantastic recipe book for home-made natural products. Non-Toxic Home Cleaning lists dozens of quick and easy recipes for home cleaning
To protect both our generation and future generations, each one of us must make a personal sacrifice. The sacrifice is one of time and, in the short term, money. Unsafe and untested chemicals can be found in everything from cleaning to pet care to body care products so the task of switching to safe alternatives is not an easy or quick one. Fortunately, there are hundreds of very effective, safe, and, many times, less expensive alternatives available in the marketplace. Many of these products are also cruelty-free (i.e., do not contain animal by-products and are not tested on animals) — look for “cruelty-free” labeling.
Taking it Further
- If you work in an environment where you and your fellow workers are exposed to unsafe or untested chemicals, work with management to try to alter your company's purchasing and cleaning policies. American Dream offers Purchasing Managers easy access to green product information.
- It never hurts to share your concerns with your elected representatives.
- Eat local, organic and grass fed pastured meats and eggs and organic vegetables when possible.
Information and Statistics
Information about Toxic Chemicals
More than 85,000 synthetic chemicals are in use today and the vast majority of them have never been properly tested for safety.
The health impact from combining chemicals is also largely untested. The detrimental effect that these chemicals have had on our health, however, is well-documented. The following books provide a clear picture of the harm these products have caused:
We should never have allowed, in the name of “progress”, untested chemicals to be released into the environment and we most certainly should never have allowed the release of chemicals KNOWN to cause harm! Collectively, we need to move toward a day when releasing unsafe or untested chemicals into our environment is just as offensive and unacceptable to us as human slavery or the use of nuclear bombs.
Each time you buy a product containing unsafe or untested chemicals, you are exposing yourself and your family to the possible/known harmful effects of these chemicals. You are also exposing animals, plants, and other people to these chemicals throughout the product's life cycle — manufacturing, use, and disposal.
Many chemicals, including a large number already known to be harmful, are classified as “persistent” because they resist the natural process of decay which would make them harmless. Known persistent chemicals include:
Studies are linking exposure to unsafe chemicals with a wide variety of problems:
- birth defects
- neurological and brain issues
- memory loss
- personality changes
- breathing issues; short and long term such as COPD
- sleep disturbances
- muscle incoordination
- visual disturbances
- aches and pains
- sexual dysfunction
- disruption of the immune, nervous, endocrine, and reproductive systems
Exposure to unsafe chemicals can also lead to a condition known as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), which can cause someone to have adverse reactions to even low-level exposures to chemicals.
Human beings are capable of creating chemicals that are safe and that do breakdown quickly in the environment — we need to raise the bar for our chemists and manufacturers.
My wish for you is that you reach a point where you find it completely unacceptable to use ANY unsafe or untested chemicals in your home or garden. Just because everyone is doing it definitely does NOT make it safe.
Please do not ever underestimate how important taking this step can be for protecting your health, the health of your loved ones, and our planet. Mainstream media rarely reports on the dangers, or potential dangers, of unsafe or untested chemicals. This can lead to a false sense of security. However, a little independent research quickly reveals the full impact that these chemicals have had on our lives. We have been slowly lulled into accepting something that is completely unacceptable.
Statistics on Environmental Toxins:
- The following are links to search tools that provide U.S. citizens with the ability to search for environmental toxins in their neighborhoods:
- Unintentional poisonings kill an estimated 355 000 people globally each year. In developing countries – where two thirds of these deaths occur – such poisonings are associated strongly with excessive exposure to, and inappropriate use of, toxic chemicals. In many such settings, toxic chemicals may be emitted directly into soil, air, and water – from industrial processes, pulp and paper plants, tanning operations, mining, and unsustainable forms of agriculture – at levels or rates well in excess of those tolerable to human health. (World Health Organization)
- The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has estimated that by the year 2020, nearly one third of the world's chemical production will take place in non-OECD countries and that global output will be 85% higher than it was in 1995. The shift of chemical production to poor countries may increase related health and environmental risks. (World Health Organization)
- Each and every second 310 Kg of toxic chemicals are released into our air, land, and water by industrial facilities around the world. This amounts to approximately 10 million tons (over 21 billion pounds) of toxic chemicals released into our environment by industries each year. Of these, over 2 million tons (over 4.5 billion pounds) per year are recognized carcinogens. This amounts to about 65 Kg each second. (Worldometers)
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has assessed chemical exposure in the U.S. population. Reports: National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.
- Exposure to common chemicals makes babies more likely to develop an array of health problems later in life, including diabetes, attention deficit disorders, prostate cancer, fertility problems, thyroid disorders and even obesity. (Source: report by 200 scientists)
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported to Congress that our indoor air contains the nation's worst pollution. Indoor air pollution is seen as one of the five most urgent environmental problems facing the United States.
- It is estimated that 42 billion pounds of chemicals enter American commerce daily, enough chemicals to fill up 623,000 tanker trucks, a string of trucks that could straddle the globe three times, every day. Fewer than 500 of those substances have undergone any substantive risk assessments. (Source: Exposed by Mark Schapiro)
- The EPA's Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas. Additional TEAM studies indicate that while people are using products containing organic chemicals, they can expose themselves and others to very high pollutant levels, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after the activity is completed. (Source: EPA)
- In the U.S., one in every five women of childbearing age has mercury levels in her body that exceed the federal recommended limit. Coal burning power plants release 41 percent of the country's industrial mercury pollution. The air borne mercury falls into lakes, streams and oceans, concentrating in fish and shellfish, which are then consumed by people. A direct correlation was found between people's mercury levels and the amount of store-bought fish, canned tuna fish or locally caught fish people consumed. Mercury contamination is a concern for women 16 to 49 years old because mercury exposure in the womb can cause neurological damage and other health problems in children. (Source: Greenpeace Mercury Hair Sampling Project and the Environmental Quality Institute; October, 2004)
- According to the Toronto Indoor Air Commission (1990), women who work at home have a 54% higher cancer rate than women who work away from home.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that one-half of all the world's cancers occur among people living in industrialized countries (containing only one-fifth of the world's population). (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- According to WHO, at least 80 percent of all cancer is attributable to environmental influences. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- The American Cancer Society has reported that, in the U.S., men have a little less than a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer; for women the risk is a little more than 1 in 3. (Source: American Cancer Society)
- According to the National Cancer Institute's SEER Program (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results), cancer incidence increased 49.3% between 1950 and 1991 in the United States. Childhood cancers have risen by one-third since 1950. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- Researchers are continually finding new evidence that common items in our kitchens, bathrooms and toy chests can make us sick. One of the most insidious substances is bisphenol A, a component of the light plastics used in baby bottles and many other consumer products. Over the past several years, scientists have reported that low levels of bisphenol A can disrupt cell division, leading to spontaneous miscarriages and birth defects such as Down syndrome. (Source: Scientific American, Fighting Toxins in the Home)
- Examples of occupations with higher than average cancer rates in industrialized countries: farmers and migrant farm workers, painters, welders, asbestos workers, plastics manufacturers, dye and fabric makers, firefighters, miners, printers, radiation workers, chemists, chemical engineers, dentists and dental assistants, and chemotherapy workers. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- Breast cancer rates are thirty times higher in the United States than in parts of Africa. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- A National Research Council study found that complete health-hazard evaluations were available for only 10 percent of pesticides and 18 percent of drugs used in this country.
- The EPA estimates pesticides contaminate the groundwater in 38 states, polluting the primary source of drinking water for more than half the country's population.
- Every year, 5 to 10 million household poisonings are reported as the result of accidental exposure to toxic products in the home. (Source: Debra Lynn Dadd, Home Safe Home)
- “Poisoning is the third most common form of unintentional death in the United States…Poisoning accounts for 285,000 hospitalizations, 1.2 million days of acute hospital care, and 13,000 fatalities yearly.” (Source: Dr. Richard S. Weisman, Testimony on 10/12/99 for Subcommittee on Health & Environment)
- “The World Health Organization estimates that every year 3 million people suffer from severe pesticide poisoning, matched by a greater number of unreported, mild cases that result in acute conditions such as skin irritation, nausea, diarrhea, and breathing problems. These poisonings result in as many as 20,000 unintentional deaths…” (Source: Worldwatch Institute, “State of the World 2002”)
- “The March of Dimes estimates that 200,000 live infants are born with birth defects each year as a result of parental chemical exposure.” (Source: Center for Disease Control, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “Disorders of Reproduction”, 8/6/85)
- Young children, under 10 years of age, have a four to seven-fold increased risk of getting leukemia when they live in a home where pesticides are frequently used – in the home or garden. Childhood brain cancer is also associated with herbicides, flea collars, pesticides that target termites, and indoor pesticide “bombs”. (Source: Karyn Siegel-Maier, The Naturally Clean Home)
- “There are 4 million chemical mixtures in commercial use that have never been tested for their reproductive effects.” (Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, “The Effects of Workplace Hazards on Male Reproductive Health”, 1996)
- “Of chemicals commonly found in homes, hundreds have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological abnormalities.” (Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission)
- Several European studies conducted in the early 1990s found that sperm count of the human male has dropped by half since 1938. The Los Angeles Times, in December 1984, reported that “adverse effects from [household] chemicals include reduced male sperm count, testicle atrophy and infertility.” (Source: Karyn Siegel-Maier, The Naturally Clean Home)
- The National Academy of Sciences estimates that around 15% of the U.S. population suffer from some degree of “increased sensitivity to chemicals”. (Source: Debra Lynn Dadd, Home Safe Home)
- “At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans.” (Source: EPA)
- “[Dispose at a hazardous waste facility] partially full containers of old or unneeded chemicals…Because gases can leak even from closed containers, this single step could help lower concentrations of organic chemicals in your home.” (Source: EPA)
- As of 1990, the EPA had identified 32,465 sites with past chemical waste dumping that needed to be cleaned up. (Source: Sandra Steingraber, Living Downstream)
- “[The United States is] number one in hazardous waste produced (by a factor of more than twenty times our nearest “competitor”, Germany).” (Source: Michael Moore, Stupid White Men)