There have been a number of studies over the years that have explored the link between bad air quality and our mental health. However, findings from a recent study in the UK are particularly alarming. Scientists from Kings College, London, found that even a small increase in pollutants such as Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and PM2.5 can lead to a rise in the number of people suffering from severe mental illness.
Pollution leads to increase in hospitalizations
The team studied 13,000 people in the London area and found that a small rise in Nitrogen Dioxide exposure can lead to a 32% increase in the need for community-based treatment, and an 18% increase in the need to be hospitalized due to mental illness.
Inflammation in the brain is to blame
Exposure to pollutants such as Nitrogen Dioxide are known to cause inflammation in the brain. According to the team from London, it is this inflammation that increases the chances of a person suffering from psychotic disorders. Nitrogen Dioxide is the main pollutant emitted by vehicles, so although this particular trial was based in London, the team are confident the same theory applies to all developed countries, where road traffic contributes to pollution levels.
Change can happen
According to one of the research team, Joanne Newbury, from the University of Bristol.
“Air pollution is modifiable, and on a big scale as well, reducing population-level exposure,”
With the right government support, reducing pollution levels is an achievable goal, that could greatly reduce the number of people suffering with mental illness. In contrast, treating mental illness on an individual level is extremely complicated, expensive and often just not possible.
Mental health disorders affect 1 in 5 US adults
The stats on mental health in the US are staggering. In 2019, 1 in 5 adults suffered some kind of mental health disorder, with around 1 in 20 experiencing serious mental illness. People with mental health problems are 40% more likely to develop cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. Sadly, more than 8.4 million people in the US, care for someone with mental health problems.
Suicide is a major cause of death for young people
According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy around $1 trillion every year. But without doubt, the most heart-breaking fact of all, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the US for people aged between 10 and 34.
Keep your indoor air quality in check
You may not be able to control the levels of pollution in your local area. But you can certainly keep your indoor air quality in check. If you live in a neighborhood where pollution from the street can find its way into your home, you may want to consider investing in an air purifier. The Austin Air HealthMate Plus, is designed to remove a wide range of pollutants, including those from traffic, smoke, viruses, bacteria, allergens and VOC’s.
The Austin Air HealthMate Plus will keep the air in your home clean and safe. And keep you healthy!