Air Pollution Effects on our Brain and Psyche

Air Pollution Effects on our Brain and Psyche


Photo by Sergio Rodriguez

Can Pollution cause Brain Disease and affect our Behaviour?

There’s a latin proverb that says Mens sana in corpore sano, which means “A healthy mind in a healthy body”. We know that air pollution causes damage to our lungs, blood and skin, but what about our brain? Alzheimer, dementia, criminality, verbal and mathematical deficiencies and learning disabilities are just some of the effects pollution may have on our brain. The sources that report on this troubling news come from some of the most influential news media in the world, such as BBC, National Geographic, The Guardian and official government reports! The most dangerous threat seems to come from our homes, since indoor pollution is usually higher than outdoor pollution. Of course, people who live in clean environments or have an air purifier have a significantly lower risk of being affected by these disorders. Sadly, 55% of the world’s population live in urban areas and this number seems to be increasing annually!

"Alzheimer, dementia, criminality, and learning disabilities are some of the effects pollution may have on our brain”

While pollution levels have fallen in most urban areas in the last few decades, and we hope it continues to fall, we are still facing adversity, we have not quite left the danger zone. South Asian air is dangerously decreasing in quality and we are still partially (or rather mostly) using fuels that pollute to travel to and from work or to warm our houses. Some governments are attempting some bold, new solutions to get rid of the problem, but many countries don’t want to fight the current. That is down to them preserving their economic and politic interests.

In recent years researchers collected enough data about the effects pollution may have on our brain. The research found that despite being in different parts of the globe… the problems were the same. Bad air can cause brain diseases like dementia and alzheimer, but it also risks reducing our ability to concentrate. So, pollution may be the culprit for lower levels of learning and logical skills in recent years. It appears that our behaviour changes during the most polluted days of the year. Researcher Sefi Roth from the London School of Economics, found that students from the same area would have the lowest scores on exams taken during highly polluted days. This means that the ratio between air pollution and test scores might have little relation to a students actual capabilities in that days. Instead, capabilities could be affected by pollutants in the air. Students may have better chances with being admitted to a highly-ranked university or securing a job partly based on how clean their indoor air is! Jackson Lu, a researcher at MIT, noticed that even criminality is higher on days when pollution is at its highest. Lu noticed a rise in rapes, car thefts, assaults, and yes, even murders in those areas.

"students from the same area would have the lowest scores on exams taken during highly polluted days”

Another research project, conducted in China by Xin Zhang of Beijing Normal University, lead to another pollution threat: he tested the verbal and mathematical capabilities of nearly 32.000 males and females students with different tests. The result was that in highly polluted areas the scores were lower, with a steeper decline in verbal scores than those in math.

This is particularly concerning as some governments have recently decided to ignore pollution issues that may lead to a rise of air pollution levels. The good news is that people from all around the world have started raising awareness of the risks that our planet (and consequently humans) are running. This is partially thanks to activists like Greta Thunberg and entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. Even in developing and really polluted countries like China and India this is becoming the case. Programs have been created to get rid of bad air, but that simply is not cutting it!

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Indoor air is significantly more polluted than outdoor air, leading the risk to be clandestine, hiding in your own home! Cleaning the air we breathe every day is a way we can promote our own health and avoid these brain threatening disorders. A healthy environment can reduce the risk of brain disease and even improve our ability to learn. Clean air can improve the relations between family members or housemates and also protects children. BRID air purifier allows you to use less chemicals to clean rooms, it does the job for you allowing you to use low pollution technologies. We are the solution for the environment, if we act together we can help reduce unhealthy particles in the air around us. We have to change the future of the world, starting from our homes and clearing our minds of pollutants!

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