Poor AQI, pollution could impact mental health: Experts

Location

Poor AQI, pollution could impact mental health: Experts

A study reveals that the low air quality is not only affecting our respiration but mental health

Poor AQI, pollution could impact mental health: Experts

Season and the air have always been used as a metaphor for depicting the state of mind in art and literature. Happy was bright and sunny, and gloomy represented as a dull grey. The AQI in the capital has constantly been in the poor, very poor and severe category for days now.

Mental health is necessary to maintain balance in life. Healthy mental status not only defines how we handle stress but also helps an individual to achieve higher in life. In the past few days, we all have been living in hazardous environments due to the pollution level. A study reveals that the low air quality is not only affecting our respiratory system or skin but also causing harm to our mental health.

Psychologist Shipra Lamba, says "There is enough proof to support that air pollution is one of the leading culprits in respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological diseases. Pollutants which are microscopic particles in the air, when inhaled can enter our respiratory and circulatory systems. The effect can be damaging to our lungs, heart and brain." She added, "a more severe impact can be experienced by people who are already unwell."

She further explains that air pollutants have been proved to contribute towards increased inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, which in turn can cause serious neurocognitive and neurodegenerative effects such as the increased risk of stroke, Parkinson's disease, dementia, neurodevelopmental disorders, depression, anxiety and other related conditions.

Miss. Lamba added, "Apart from psychological and psychiatric effects of toxic air, a sociological aspect also exists, as stated by her, the immense level of pollution in the air restricts our outdoor exercise and outdoor play for children which can potentially lead to mobile addiction, being socially unavailable, low physical stamina, loneliness, low immunity and hence leading to increased chances of psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, body image issues and other related problems."

Here are some symptoms shared by Psychologist Lamba triggered by air pollution which ultimately affects mental health:

  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Shortness of breath, palpitations
  • Tense muscles
  • Body pain
  • Low mood
  • Behavioural changes
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in socializing and outdoor activities which a person earlier enjoyed
  • Increased sensitivity to stress.

"If I am what I eat, then I am also what I breath" Shipra Lamba
Technologies such as indoor air purifiers may be effective for improving air quality inside the house and may work as a blessing for people who are already ill. But we still have to address the elephant in the room and hence gadgets such as air purifiers that can help inside a house are not the ultimate solution. 

People have to go outdoors which is necessary for good mental and physical health, hence exposure to polluted air is going to be there. Therefore, wear your mask properly and remember to maintain a requirement to improve the quality of air so that the quality of our mental and physical health can be better.

Ms Lamba suggests a few solutions on how can prevent air pollution from affecting your mental health:

  • Spread awareness: More awareness is needed regarding how polluted air is adversely affecting us. Setting good examples for others, especially our children by following vehicle pollution norms set by the government, Carpooling or using public transport.
  • Green energy systems: Opting for a green energy system helps maintain good air quality. One can use EV and Hydrogen fuel cells technology. One can also adopt green energy sources such as windmills and solar panels for electricity.
  • Ventilation: improving household ventilation and restricting wooden stoves
  • Communication: Communication is a key point in maintaining good health. We must reach out to someone if a need is felt.