Have you heard of the connection between environmental exposures and PF? There are many different types of PF, and for some people, the cause of PF is a known result of environmental factors occurring at work, at home, or in their community. Even if the cause is unknown (leading to an IPF diagnosis rather than PF), there’s a chance you may be sensitive to environmental exposures currently. 

For instance, participants in past support group meetups have reported sensitivity, discomfort, or allergic-like reactions to the chemicals found in common household products. This can include certain makeup, perfume, other cosmetic products, laundry detergent, scented soaps, and more. Sometimes it is easy to notice whether a particular product or ingredient impacts your symptoms, and other times it feels impossible to tell. 

What if there were easier ways for you to identify environmental triggers, and take steps to prevent those triggers? Read on to discover research about environmental exposures and PF, and to hear tips for creating a lung-healthy environment for yourself moving forward. 

Research has shown various environmental exposures to be associated with an increased risk of a PF or IPF diagnosis: 

  • Occupational exposures can include the following:
    • Working with silica, stone dust, and polishes, steel or metal dust, wood dust, or fiberglass
    • Farming, agricultural work, or exposure to pesticides
    • Working in the livestock industry with cattle and birds, and livestock feed
    • Working around vapors, gas, fumes, smoke, dust, mold, asbestos, petrochemicals, or other irritants
  • Household exposures can include the following:
    • Asbestos
    • Herbicides or pesticides
    • Black mold
    • Chemicals or smoke
    • Prolonged use of certain cleaning, cosmetic, or beauty products
    • Droppings from birds kept as pets 

If you live in, work at, or visit environments with elements that could damage your lungs long-term, please speak with your doctor about ways to mitigate risk and protect your health moving forward. If you are exposed to toxins and require immediate assistance, you can contact your regional poison control center and/or the CDC’s Public Response Hotline at any time. There are also resources online teaching the best ways to get away from chemicals or decontaminate toxins.

Whether you’ve been exposed to toxins in the past, might be facing them currently, or just want to learn more about ways to potentially reduce PF-related symptoms like coughing, there are many ways to promote a healthy environment for your lungs:

Tips for creating a lung-healthy environment:

  1. Begin recordkeeping to track key information and assist with identifying triggers for PF-related symptoms. Free templates are available to print and fill out from home on our site: treatment plan and weekly update
  2. Improve your air quality indoors through proper ventilation, air purification, and oxygen-increasing houseplants. 
  3. Look closely at the ingredients in your household products. Consider cosmetics like makeup and deodorant, hair care products (including shampoos, conditioners, and hair gels), laundry detergents and soaps, carpet cleaners, and more.
    1. No matter the product, there are typically healthy alternatives available to purchase or even make yourself! Once you’ve picked a product to start with, you can search for lung-safe alternatives or DIY recipes. 
    2. Recipes for lung-safe cleaning products typically replace harsh chemicals with ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda, castile soap, and/or essential oils. 

Additional tips for lung health:

Stay In Touch

PF Now! hosts a virtual support group on Zoom every month. Not only will you strengthen your network of connections but you’ll learn firsthand how those with PF best look after themselves. PF Now! also has a Facebook group whose active community shares their PF journey and their tips with others. New to online support groups? Download our free step-by-step guide for online advocacy here.

Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information received from us.

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