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What are the harmful mental health effects of air pollution?

2 min reading time Fine dust & coarse

We already know that air pollution can be dangerous for our physical health, but did you know about the mental health issues it can cause too? Here’s everything to need to be aware of, and what you can do to help. 

health effects of air pollution 2

How bad is our air?

Firstly, a crucial statistic about the quality of our air and how big a problem this is. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that around 90 % of people worldwide are exposed to polluted air. 

Air pollution and mental health

The connections between mental health and poor air quality aren’t new. Science has long proven that it can have the following impacts: 

  • It can affect cognitive performance 
  • It can cause mental illness 
  • It can be a risk factor for the development of conditions like dementia 

This is most commonly seen in developing countries where the air quality in general can be much more polluted. And mental health issues are on the rise, particularly since the pandemic, according to the WHO. 

By 2030, depression is expected to be one of the top three causes of ill health, and air pollution is being talked about as a potential contributing factor in this. 

The negative effects, proved by science

A study in 2019 on the effects of air pollution on psychiatric disorders in the US and Denmark found that people living in areas with poor air quality were:  

  • 50 % more likely to develop depression  
  • 29 % more likely to develop bipolar disorder  
  • 174 % more likely to develop schizophrenia  
  • 162 % more likely to develop a personality disorder 
  • 11.5 % more at risk of dying by suicide 

The importance of clean air in the workplace

The air pollution we’ve talked about so far can exist in many places and have many causes, but you can’t ignore issues about air quality in the workplace. It’s actually much more dangerous indoors than outdoors and doesn’t have to appear in the form of dark smoke and smog to have an impact on people’s physical and mental health. 

This is because the fine dust and other particles that can exist in ‘invisible’ air pollution can penetrate deeper into the lungs and other organs, having been trapped in the workplace by poor ventilation. This exposes employees to increased risk of mental health problems, with knock-on effects for your productivity and reputation. 

So why not demonstrate to your employees that you’re taking their wellbeing seriously by combating any issues with air quality by using market-leading air purifiers from Zehnder Clean Air Solutions? 

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