The impact of polluted air on mental health is very serious
Several studies have proven that nitrogen and carbon oxide, two air pollutants, can affect the central nervous system and lead to physical and mental health problems. The results of several studies showed that young adults who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution , especially nitrogen oxide, experienced greater mental health problems in the transition into adulthood. The components of air pollution lead to many diseases of the nervous system, and have a negative impact on mental health In the following lines, we review together the impact of polluted air on mental health, according to the Center for Urban Design and Mental Health:
- Depression rates are significantly increased among those exposed to a range of air pollutants. One study demonstrated that hospital emergency visits due to depressive episodes were significantly higher in those exposed to certain groups of air pollutants.
Links between air pollution and anxiety symptoms have been reported, with a study finding that the link between anxiety symptoms and air pollution was greater for lower socioeconomic groups.
The difference between urban and rural areas in the incidence of schizophrenia is well established in studies, and air pollution has recently been included as a cause of schizophrenia. The possibility of a causal relationship between environmental exposure to heavy metals, particularly to cadmium and lead, and the neurobiological pathways for the development of schizophrenia has been highlighted.
Childhood mental health
Studies have found that exposure to higher levels of environmental air pollutants in early childhood is weakly associated with autism spectrum disorders and psychotic disorders later in life. Prenatal exposure to high levels of air pollutants has also been implicated in a range of health effects on children. It is also evidence of impaired mental development in children born to mothers who were exposed to significant air pollution during pregnancy.
Mental health in the elderly
A study found that long-term exposure to carbon black from automobile exhaust led to a greater risk of cognitive decline in older men.