Air Pollution’s Effects on Mental Health

Air pollution can negatively impact mental health and increase people’s risk of various psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety. This is the conclusion of many studies that examined how exposure to particulate matter (PM) affects mental health.

Also known as particulates, particulate matter is a mixture of fine solid and liquid particles suspended in the air, such as dust, soot, smoke and liquid droplets. These particles can be emitted directly from a primary source, such as wood stoves and forest fires. They can also form when gases turn into particulate matter.

PM is a significant health hazard due to its size. At sizes of around 2.5 to 10 micrometers, it can be inhaled and get deep into the lungs and the bloodstream. While it is better known for its effects on the lungs, plenty of studies show that PM is also toxic to the brain.

A review of studies from 1974 to 2017 found that long-term PM exposure is significantly associated with depression risk. It also suggested a potential link between long-term PM exposure and anxiety, as well as between short-term exposure and suicide risk. Read more…

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