Mental Health: Can Air Pollution Cause Mental Health Issues?

Mental health: can air pollution cause mental health problems?

Mental health: can air pollution cause mental health problems?

Air pollution and other factors can cause or worsen mental health issues

Air pollution can cause irreversible damage to our body. Studies have long shown its impact on our lungs, cardiovascular health, general health, and many other factors. However, other studies have shown that prolonged exposure to poor air quality may even affect our mental health.

The largest study of its kind has found a link between exposure to air pollution and an increase in the severity of mental illness. The study, which involved 13,000 adults in London, found that even a modest increase in nitrogen dioxide exposure increased the likelihood of needing community care by 32% and being admitted to hospital by 18%.

The research findings were likely applicable to the majority of cities in developed countries, and reducing air pollution could help millions of people. It is possible to reduce people’s exposure to air pollution on a large scale.

We are aware that certain measures, such as the extension of low emission zones, are possible. Individual-level interventions for mental health are actually quite difficult. Bearing in mind that the air quality index in India is also much worse than in London.

According to some research, even brief, transient exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of developing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, with damage beginning in childhood. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, more than 90% of children worldwide breathe air contaminated at levels harmful to their health and development.

Since children’s brains and behavior are still developing through late adolescence and early adulthood, air pollution, especially PM2.5, can have a negative impact disproportionate on their mental and emotional growth, as well as on cognitive and behavioral outcomes.

Based on a theory linking PM2.5 to occurrences of mental health problems in early childhood, the extreme mental health symptoms caused by exposure to air pollution are severe enough to send children to the emergencies for psychiatric treatment.

Keeping these elements in mind, it is necessary to take the necessary measures to reduce the negative impact of air pollution as much as possible. Here are some ways to reduce the effects of air pollution on your mental health:

  • Check local forecasts for daily air pollution. You can tell when the air quality in your area is unhealthy with color-coded forecasts.
  • Always stay away from crowded places when exercising. High levels of pollution can be produced by traffic on congested roads, even when air quality forecasts are in the green.
  • Pay attention to the air quality in your home as it could also be bad for your health. Fine particles and ozone are two examples of external contaminants that could enter your home.
  • The first step to keeping the smoky air out of your home is to keep your windows closed. Filtration and circulation would come next. Use fans to circulate the air in your home and, if you can, use filters to get rid of airborne debris.
  • Smoke protection is often not provided by cloth masks. You should wear an N95 mask to filter out small particles while providing smoke protection. Cloth masks generally allow fine particles to pass through.
  • Removing airborne particles can benefit from air purifiers. You can purchase air purifiers that have undergone more extensive testing to remove certain particle sizes.
  • Ensure no one is allowed to smoke indoors and encourage initiatives to make all public spaces smoke-free.

Keep these things in mind to ensure better physical and mental health.

Disclaimer: This content, including advice, provides generic information only. It does not in any way replace qualified medical advice. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim any responsibility for this information.

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