We have known that air pollution causes heart diseases, lung cancer and respiratory problems like Emphysema. It also causes damage to nerves, brain, kidneys, liver etc. Now, a new study by the American Psychological Association, published in Development Psychology Journal, states alarming results.
The study has linked exposure to ozone gas with increasing symptoms of depression among teenagers. Ozone is a gas that is produced when pollutants from motor vehicles exhaust, power plants and sources of sunlight react to sunlight. High ozone levels give rise to Asthma, respiratory viruses and premature deaths.
Ozone can contribute to very high levels of inflammation in the body. This inflammation in the body is linked with starting and development of depression symptoms. The symptoms of depression among teenagers include constant feelings of sadness and poor concentration levels. These symptoms also include disturbances in sleep and even worse — suicide thoughts. Adolescents are severely affected by these effects because they spend a major amount of time outdoors.
For this study, 213 adolescents (9 to 13 years old) from the San Francisco Bay area were made a part of this research. Their mental health was compared with census tracts for home addresses. Air quality data of those tracts were taken into consideration by California Environmental Protection Agency.
According to lead researcher Erika Manczak, their findings have highlighted the importance of considering air pollution’s impact on mental health besides physical. These findings were not affected by participants’ age, sex, race, household income, parental education or socioeconomic characteristics of their neighbourhood.
The research also showed that adolescents were suffering from depression even though ozone levels in their area were low. Erika said that even low levels of ozone exposure can have potentially detrimental effects. To control this problem, Erika said that state and federal air quality standards should be very strict. She said that stricter regulations should be there on industries that cause air pollution. Investing in clean and renewable energy sources can also reduce air pollution according to her.
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