Air Pollution Increases the Risk of Mental Health Problems

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Mental Health/Wikimedia Commons

According to a new study conducted by the University of Washington, the risks of psychological distress increase with the amount of pollution in the air.

“The effects of air pollution on cardiovascular health and lung diseases such as asthma are well established. But its impact on brain health is a new field of research, “said Anjum Hajat, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Washington.

Published in the November edition of the journal Health & Place, the study indicates that air pollution can generate certain behavioral changes. It would cause people to spend less time outdoors and opt for a more sedentary lifestyle, which is more likely to create psychological distress and social isolation.

Using data from 6000 respondents, the study examined the relationship between air toxicity and mental health. The researchers first isolated a particle emitted by engines, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and coal and natural gas fired power plants.

They then noticed a correlation between the presence in the air of this particle and the rate of psychological distress of the people who are exposed to it. In places where it was found in greater numbers, the psychological distress was 17% higher.