Thursday, November 2, 2017

Clean air nurtures mental health

There has been a growing awareness of how naturally healthy lifestyles promote mental health. Aside from good nutrition, daily exercise, adequate rest, and avoidance of drugs and alcohol, it has also become apparent that clean air helps to promote mental health.

The University of Washington has reported that mental health is clouded by air pollution. It is well known that dirty air can undermine normal breathing and exacerbate various lung diseases. Connections between toxic air and diabetes, obesity, and dementia are also being investigated. Researchers at the University of Washington now say psychological distress is also associated with air pollution.

Where a person lives can have a dramatic effect on their health and quality of life. "Social determinants" of physical and mental health have been identified by researchers. These determinants include the availability of foods which are healthy at local grocery stores, access to nature in the neighborhood and safety in the neighborhood.

Scientists say that air pollution is also associated with  behavior changes. Exposure to air pollution can lead to not spending as much time outside and leading a lifestyle which is sedentary. This can also be associated with a distressed psychological state of being or social isolation.

The researchers at University of Washington found that there was an increased risk of psychological distress with an increased amount of particulate matter present in the air. For every increase in pollution of 5 micrograms per cubic meter the same effect as a 1 1/2 year loss in education was observed.

This study has been published in  Health & Place.The effects of air pollution on the psychological distress of individuals was studied. It has been suggested by this study that public health initiatives to decrease the personal and societal costs of mental illness should give consideration to addressing not only characteristics of the individual and factors in the social environment, but also aspects of the physical environment as seen with air pollution. It appears that clean air nurtures mental health while air pollution does the opposite.