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7 Surprising Triggers of Lung Trouble

Common pollutants, such as traffic exhaust and secondhand smoke, are well-known causes of lung problems, including asthma. But there are a number of other irritants—some of them found in your own home or car—that can also trigger asthma symptoms.

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Although plastic doesn’t seem like it would hurt your lungs (unless maybe you choked on it), household products that contain a type of plastic known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC)—such as shower curtains, certain types of flooring, imitation leather furniture, replacement windows, and toys—slowly give off chemical compounds known as phthalates.

In various studies, elevated phthalate levels—or the presence of PVC products in the home—have been associated with increased asthma diagnosis, wheezing, and cough, according to a 2007 review conducted by a researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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