Friend, if you've already rolled up your sleeves for some "spring cleaning" or pulled out the bug spray to defend against the creepy-crawlies coming out in droves this time of year... we've got to clear the air about something.

If the sprays you've been using both inside and outside are full of chemicals (as many of them are), you could be putting your lungs in peril.

Because according to a new study, being exposed to pollutants in the air can send your risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) soaring!

Now, COPD isn't a single disease. It’s a "catchall" for a number of progressive lung conditions -- which can include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma -- that saddle you with a constant cough and literally take your breath away.

In the study, Spanish researchers tested the lung function of over 3,300 people in 12 countries -- none of whom had COPD at the start of the study -- and assessed their exposure to toxic dusts, gases, fumes, and pesticides at work.

Two decades later, when the lung function tests were repeated, it turned out that those who were exposed to gases and fumes were 50 percent more likely to have developed COPD than those who weren't.

And the greatest jump in COPD risk was among those who’d been exposed to pesticides. They had a whopping 120 percent higher chance of developing COPD than those who didn't breathe in these chemicals!

This confirms what previous studies have shown – that everything from in-home insect foggers to common household cleaners like bleach can damage your lungs.

The theory is that fine particles from these airborne chemicals can lodge themselves in the delicate tissues of your airways, causing irritation and inflammation. And over time, that inflammation can actually CHANGE the structure of your lungs, leaving you gasping for air.

Now, you might expect noxious fumes to attack your breathing passages. After all, they don’t smell so good, and they can burn your nose and throat as you breathe them in.

But this study revealed something else that can put your lungs at risk – and it may seem completely innocuous.

I’m talking about dust.

Specifically those who breathed in "biological dusts" – house dust, pet hair, dander, and even spores from mold and mildew -- had a 60 percent higher risk of COPD than those who didn't.

So, if you want to save your lungs, it's time to take a closer look at anything you send into the air.

To control insects, ditch those chemical foggers and bug sprays and instead look for products made with natural pest deterrents like cayenne, citronella, and peppermint oil.

When cleaning house, swap any disinfectants containing bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and "quats" (a.k.a. quaternary ammonium compounds) for "green" cleansers.

You can also clean things the "old-fashioned" way with time-tested germ-busters like baking soda, vinegar, and plain old soap and hot water.

And for those biological dusts, using a vacuum outfitted with a HEPA filter can go a long way in clearing your carpets, furniture, and mattress from the most common contaminants (including mites!).

Believe it or not, you may find your allergies clearing up, too.