The state of California has set up strict car emission standards to lower smog levels and promote healthy lung development in children, but a recent study has revealed that there is another unappreciated source of air pollution in the Golden State: fertilized soil on farmland, which emits nitrogen oxides. Researchers recommend that farmers use targeted fertilization methods, to reduce the emission of gases.
Of course, lung development is only one issue affected by pollution. We know that nitrogen oxides and other gases worsen asthma symptoms and are associated with more frequent hospital visits and impaired heart and lung function but did you know pollution can also affect your mental health?
Air Pollution and the Mental Health of Children
A study published in the journal BMJ Open in 2016, found that even small increases in air pollution are associated with a significant rise in mental problems. The study looked into the effect of pollution exposure on over half a million children, comparing this with records of medications prescribed for mental disease, ranging from sedatives to antipsychotics. The researchers concluded that a lower concentration of pollution (first and foremost traffic pollution) could reduce mental problems in children and teens. They noted that children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution, because they are more active and their organs are still in development.
It’s Just as Bad Indoors
Of course, smog is not the only type of pollution that plagues Americans. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside homes is generally between two and five times more polluted than the air outside. Poor indoor air quality is caused by everything from harsh cleaning products such as bleach, right through to personal care products in spray form, formaldehyde in old sofas, toxins emitted by furniture, etc. Health experts warn us to select furniture carefully, cut down on the use of chemical cleaners at home, and refrain from burning paraffin candles, which release toxins that affect respiratory health.
The above-mentioned research does not stand alone. One major study in Hong Kong, for instance, shows that the risk of death rises sharply on days when pollution is worse. Additional research, carried out by researchers at George Washington University, found that fine particles in air (which come from many sources, including cars and factories) are linked to higher anxiety levels. Moreover, the higher the smog levels, the higher the level of anxiety experienced.
Air pollution is far from than merely a problem for our respiratory and heart health. Studies show that children and adults alike may be more vulnerable to the effects of pollution, indicating the importance of taking steps to reduce indoor pollution at home, and pressuring the government to take a tougher stance on smog and other sources of pollution (including farming).
Written by guest writer - Chrissy Robinson