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The harmful mental health effects of air pollution

06/10/24 2 min reading time Fine dust & coarse

Perhaps you're already aware of the role air quality plays in physical health. But how well do you know the mental health effects of air pollution? Here's what you should understand and the actions you can take. 

health effects of air pollution 2

How polluted is the air you breath?

Let's begin with an alarming statistic that demonstrates the enormity of our air pollution problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly 90 % of people on Earth are exposed to polluted air. 

The mental health impacts of air pollution

We've known about the mental health effects of air pollution for some time. Scientists and doctors have proven that it can:

  • Impair cognitive performance
  • Increase the risk of conditions like dementia
  • Lead to other mental health conditions

The mental health impacts of air pollution are often seen in developing nations, where there are higher rates of air pollution. Worldwide, mental health issues are rising, especially since the Covid pandemic, reports the WHO.

By 2030, specialists expect depression to become one of the top three causes of poor health, and there has been discussion about how air pollution factors into this epidemic.

Backed by science: Air quality and mental wellbeing

A study from 2019 looked at the mental health impacts of air pollution in people living in the United States and Denmark. The results found that people who lived in areas with polluted air 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 

Why clean air in the workplace is so important

Air pollution can come from any number of sources, but it's hard to understate just how important air quality is in the workplace. In fact, indoor air pollution is far more dangerous than the air you breathe outside; even if you can't see smoke or smog in the air, there's a good chance polluted air is affecting the mental well-being of people at your workplace. 

"Invisible" air pollution at work, which comes in the form of fine dust and other particles that are impossible to see with the naked eye, poses a big threat, because it can penetrate deeper into the lungs and other organs, and becomes trapped by poor ventilation. This puts all employees at risk of the physical and mental health effects of air pollution, and can have knock-on effects for the business too, impacting productivity and your reputation. 

You can show your employees that you value their health by tackling your air quality solution with one of Zehnder Clean Air Solutions' high-performance air purifiers. Are you ready to bring fresh air to your business and reduce the health effects of air pollution?

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