Air pollution can cause irreversible damage to our bodies. Studies have long shown its impact on our lungs, cardiovascular health, general health and many other factors. However, multiple studies have shown that prolonged exposure to poor air quality can even affect our mental health.
The largest study of its kind has found an association 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 modest increases in nitrogen dioxide exposure increased the likelihood of needing community care by 32% and hospital admission by 18%.
The findings of the research are likely to be applicable to most cities in developed countries, and reducing air pollution could help millions of people. It is possible to reduce exposure to air pollution at the population level on a large scale.
We are aware that certain measures, such as the expansion of low-emission zones, are possible. Individual-level interventions for mental health are actually quite challenging. Considering that India’s air quality index is also much worse than London.
According to some research, even brief, fleeting exposure to polluted air can increase the likelihood of developing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, and the damage begins in childhood. According to World Health Organization estimates, more than 90% of children worldwide breathe air that is contaminated at levels harmful to their health and development.
Because children’s brains and behaviors are still developing into late adolescence and early adulthood, air pollution, particularly PM2.5, can have a disproportionately negative impact on their mental and emotional growth, as well as cognitive and behavioral outcomes.
Based on one theory linking PM2.5 to the onset of mental health problems in early childhood, extreme mental health symptoms caused by exposure to air pollution are bad enough to send children to the ER for psychiatric treatment.
Keeping these things in mind, it is necessary to take necessary steps to reduce the negative impact of air pollution to the extent possible. Here are some ways you can reduce the effects of air pollution on your mental health:
- Search for local daily air pollution forecasts. When the air quality in your area is unhealthy, you can find out with color-coded forecasts.
- Always stay away from busy locations when exercising. High pollution levels can cause traffic on congested roads even when the air quality forecast is in the green.
- Pay attention to the air quality in your home because it can be bad for your health as well. Fine particles and ozone are two examples of outdoor pollutants that can enter your home.
- The first step in keeping smoky air out of your house is to keep your windows closed. Filtration and circulation will come next. Use fans to move air around your house, and if you can, use filters to get rid of airborne debris.
- Protection from smoke is often not provided by cloth masks. You should wear an N95 mask to filter out small particles while providing smoke protection. Cloth masks usually let in fine particles.
- Removing airborne particles can benefit from air purifiers. You can buy air purifiers that have undergone more thorough testing to remove certain particle sizes.
- Ensure that 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 is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for more information. NDTV takes no responsibility for this information.
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