Impact of air pollution on psychological health


The air pollution in atmosphere effects on human respiratory system. But researchers also believe that the toxic air might also cause diabetes, obesity. Scientists experimenting to know the connection between toxic air and the psychological distress.

Researchers from University of Washington added that toxic air generated by pollution also linked to psychological distress. The particles in air play major role on mental health.

“This is really setting out a new trajectory around the health effects of air pollution,” said Anjum Hajat, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the UW School of Public Health. “The effects of air pollution on cardiovascular health and lung diseases like asthma well established. But this area of brain health is a newer area of research.”

Fine Particulate Matter

The substance produced by car engines, fireplaces and wood stoves, and power plants fueled by coal known as Fine Particulate Matter. Fine particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter easily inhaled. Also absorbs into the bloodstream and considered of greater risk than larger particles.

The UW study looked for a direct connection between toxic air and mental health. Depending on some 6,000 respondents from a larger, national, longitudinal study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

In the study the 6,000 participants involved corresponding to the neighborhoods. The data  segregated by race and gender, black men and white women correlation between air pollution and psychological distress. The level of distress among black men in areas of high pollution is 34 percent greater than that of white men. 55 percent greater than that of Latino men. Moreover, among white women substantial increase in distress 39 percent as pollution levels rise from low to high.

UW study estimates participants’ feelings of sadness, nervousness, hopelessness with the survey questions. Relevant to and scored with a scale that assesses psychological distress.

Amount of matter in high pollution area is 21 micrograms per cubic meter

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, level of fine particulates 12 micrograms per cubic meter. Between 1999 and 2011 measured anywhere from 2.16 to 24.23 micrograms per cubic meter, with an average level of 11.34.

However, the UW study found that the risk of psychological distress increased with the amount of fine particulate matter in the air. In areas with high levels of pollution psychological distress scores were 17 percent higher than in areas with low levels of pollution. The amount of matter in high pollution area is 21 micrograms per cubic meter, in low areas 5 micrograms per cubic meter.

“We shouldn’t think of this as problem that solved,” Anjum Hajat said. “There is a lot  for having federal guidelines that are rigorously enforced and continually updated. The ability of communities to have clean air will be impacted with more lax regulation.”