I asked Google to tell me a little bit about Lung Health Month and quickly discovered that October is full of reminders to be healthy.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Eye Injury Prevention Month, Depression and Mental Health Month, and a whole host of other things to be aware of.  With all of these different things that we’re supposed to keep in mind, it would be easy for Lung Health Month to get lost in the shuffle or forgotten about altogether.  So what makes lung health stand out?  Why should you keep reading about lung health when you could be learning more about mental health and how to avoid injuring your eyes?  After all, everyone already knows that all you have to do to improve lung health is avoid smoking.  And if you really want to get serious about it, you might even consider putting in one of those radon mitigation systems.  But there’s more to it than just that.

Lung health is impacted by the air that we breathe, the dirtier the air the less healthy our lungs become.  So other than not breathing (which is not recommended!), how do you address poor lung health related to dirty air?  There are lots of ways to improve air quality, but one of the things that you might not automatically think of is using a cleaner burning fuel, like E85, in your car or truck.  You likely know that E85 is an ethanol-based fuel made from corn grown throughout the Midwest, but there’s more to it than just that.  A gallon of E85 fuel reduces the petroleum content of the fuel by up to 85%, replacing it with cleaner burning ethanol.

From a healthy lung standpoint, this means that there are fewer pollutants in the air that we breathe.  The use of E85 fuel helps to reduce the emission of lung cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and a few other harmful VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).  E85 also helps to reduce asthma irritants that result from the usage of typical petroleum-based fuels.

One of the best parts about E85 fuel is that you don’t have to wait 25 years for the fuel to be commercially available.  You can buy it today from one of the over 200 gas stations in Illinois selling E85. If you’re not sure where the closest E85 station is, be sure to visit for a complete list of E85 stations throughout the Midwest.  And while it is true that you do need a Flex Fuel Vehicle (FFV) to take advantage of the opportunities of E85, there are more vehicle models capable of using the fuel now than ever before.  While you’re at you can also find out whether or not you currently own a FFV, or you can see a list of available FFV models.

As Lung Health Month comes to a close over the next week or so, take the time to consider using E85 fuel, not just in the month of October, but all year long.  After all, how many opportunities do you really have to improve not only your lung health, but also for the lung health of people sitting in the car behind you at the stoplight, the kids at the playground that you’re driving past, and the family, friends, and neighbors living in your community?

Matt Marcum
American Lung Association of Illinois

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