How Can Air Quality Affect Your Mental Health?

July 12, 2020

When outdoor and indoor air is polluted with particulate matter (PM), the negative effects on our bodies are not just physical. For years, experts have known that air pollution worsens allergies and the symptoms of asthma. However, polluted air affects mental health, too. This is why keeping your indoor air free of pollutants is extremely important. What’s worse is that children are more vulnerable to different kinds of particulate matter because they take in more air per unit of body weight. Whether it is from vehicle exhaust or windblown dust, the negative effects on our brains can range from mild to severe.

What exactly is particulate matter? Particulate matter is a combination of liquid droplets and solid particles. Some are large enough to be seen by the eye, and some can only be seen under a microscope. Unfortunately, particulate matter can be inhaled, getting into your lungs, your brain, and your bloodstream.

Here are four ways particulate matter can affect your mental health.

1. Affects Growing Bodies

Children’s bodies and brains are still developing. As a result, harmful pollutants can adversely affect children’s brain development. Exposure to chemicals like nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide, and sulfur oxides can have lasting negative effects on kids’ cognitive development. In fact, short-term exposure of animals to pollutants causes changes in their brains that resembled dementia.

Some studies have shown that exposure to particulate matter directly affects the body’s production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Air pollution can be detrimental to babies’ developing brains, and their cognitive development can be slowed. WHO researchers found that more exposure to pollution resulted in lower cognitive test outcomes. A study in the Netherlands on hundreds of children found that exposure to particulate matter structurally altered their cerebral cortexes.

2. Worsens Mental Health Disorders

For children already suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or even ADHD, exposure to poor air can worsen their symptoms. Studies have shown that children exposed to high amounts of air pollution are more likely to end up in the emergency room for their symptoms than those who did not have the same amounts of exposure. Continued exposure to polluted air can lead to mental health problems in adolescence.

Keeping your indoor air quality at a healthy level in Nacogdoches, TX, then, is crucial for the physical and mental health of you and your developing family. Nacogdoches Sheet Metal, Plumbing & Air Conditioning, LTD. can help.

3. Leads to Depression

Experts have found another link between poor air quality and mental health: depression. Short-term exposure of PM in the 2.5-10 microns range leads to more depression-related hospital visits. Studies in both animals and humans have linked higher exposures of PM to inflammation in the central nervous system. Inflammations in the central nervous system can result in more depressed moods and anxiety orders.

Even milder symptoms of depression are evident when people are exposed to polluted air. Authors of a study linking pollution to mental health found that those exposed to higher levels of particulate matter had lower feelings of well-being. The reverse is also true; clean, fresh air gives people greater feelings of happiness and well-being.

4. Affects Sleep

Living in a house with high particulate matter not only affects your mood, but it can also affect your sleep. Higher PM levels directly translate to sleep disturbances, which directly affect our mental well-being. And unhealthy sleeping patterns over a long period of time can have lasting effects on your mental well-being. Researchers found that those living in a highly polluted neighborhood were 60% more likely to have trouble sleeping than those who lived in neighborhoods with clean air. You may not always be able to control the air outside your home, but you can control the air inside your home.

If you’re worried about the quality of your indoor air, call Nacogdoches Sheet Metal, Plumbing & Air Conditioning, LTD. in Nacogdoches. We can do a thorough inspection and decide how we can purify the air in your home. We can also tell you how polluted your indoor air quality is and what harmful chemicals are floating around in your air. A good way to keep on top of the air quality in your home is to get air-quality alerts. We can help with this, too.

Another service we provide is also giving you advice on how to keep the particulate matter at a minimum in your home. There are easy steps you can do, such as venting more, vacuuming frequently, and avoiding aerosol sprays or candles.

Besides our top-notch indoor air quality services, Nacogdoches Sheet Metal, Plumbing & Air Conditioning, LTD. provides heating, cooling, plumbing, and sheet metal fabrication services, too. Call us today to make an appointment.

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