People living near busy highways have greater incidence of some cancers. Gasoline exhaust contains benzene, a known carcinogen. Diesel exhaust
contains a number of cancer-causing compounds. Try to avoid high-exhaust areas.
Cancer-causing chemicals including Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons can be found in wood smoke. Avoiding a fire also means less work hauling wood and cleaning ashes!
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
VOCs are organic vapors and have been linked to increased risk of cancer. They are found in gasoline, oil and natural gas production operations, and solvents like paint thinner, dry cleaning, and paint and grease remover. They include benzene, xylene, toluene, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, and methylene chloride. It is important to always use solvents outdoors or in very well-ventilated areas. Knowing the chemical risks at one’s work place and taking proper precautions such as wearing masks, using filters, gloves and skin protection and avoiding ingestion of hydrocarbons will help decrease cancers of the lung, liver, skin, bladder and prostate.
Fibers Like Asbestos
Fibers like asbestos
, silica fibers, and wood fibers, increase rates of certain cancers. Use masks, work in well-ventilated areas, or avoid exposure when working in contaminated conditions. Don’t grind or sand anything without wearing a mask and having good ventilation. Before doing any remodeling, even a little, make sure to test for asbestos.
Dioxins are ingested in meat, fish, and dairy products. You don’t have to give them all up – try substituting a vegetarian dish for one meat dish a week.
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
You might expect to find PAHs (linked to lung, skin, and urinary tract cancers) in wood smoke, car exhaust, and cigarette smoke, but did you know they are also in grilled foods and coffee? Try occasionally baking instead of grilling.
Aflatoxins are on peanuts and meat of animals that ate contaminated feed. In the US, peanuts are tested, but that is not the case in all countries.
Buy organic food that hasn’t been sprayed, or wash conventionally grown food well before eating.
Having a hard time deciding which fruits and veggies are most important to purchase as organic? Print out the Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides and keep it in your wallet.
Pesticides can easily wash into our waterways. People who work with or are exposed to pesticides have higher rates of several cancers. About 20 ingredients in various pesticides have been found to cause cancer in animals. Don’t spray for ants (you only get 1-2% of them that way). Instead, use boric acid, and keep attractive food debris swept up. Live with a few dandelions, try some of these non-toxic options
or hand-pull them.
Use this resource guide
to help with specific pest and pesticide problems and watch these EPA videos
about pesticides and healthy lawn care practices.
Did you know that bottled water does not have to meet the same rigid standards that city water supplies have to meet? There is no way to ensure the purity of a bottle of water. So don’t be misled into thinking bottled water is healthier than tap water. Tap water in a stainless steel canteen is a great alternative, and saves you lots of money!
Learn more about the Aspen Tap Program.
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds is the main risk factor for dangerous melanoma skin cancer, and children are especially at risk. Remember to use sunscreen, avoid sun between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest (especially at this altitude), and shun tanning beds!
Check out the monthly UV index average map or find the current UV index for your zip code.
is the main cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, causing 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Keeping radon out of your house is fairly easy – get a test and have the gas vented away if it is present.
Get X-rays (and CT scans) only when medically necessary. Try asking your doctor if there are any reasonable alternative diagnostic tools that could take the place of an X-ray or CT scan. If you do need one, ask about ways to protect other parts of your body from the radiation.