Over the past few years that we’ve been sharing news updates on our website, research has linked air pollution to more and more health impacts. A few months ago, we discussed how air pollution can increase the chances of dementia and cardiovascular diseases. However, the mental toll of air pollution is often overlooked.
Air pollution has been linked to depression, anxiety, and even suicide rates. While more investigation into these links is needed, it’s more apparent than ever that air pollution is incredibly harmful to not only physical health, but also mental health.
Recently, wildfire smoke has exacerbated the air pollution issue in much of the U.S. and Canada. With many of the same pollutants as urban air pollution, wildfire smoke can be extremely dangerous as it contains these pollutants in far larger quantities.
For example, urban air pollution and wildfire smoke contain nitrogen dioxide, ozone, PM2.5 and PM10 - all compounds found to be detrimental to mental health. The issue is that while wildfire smoke exposure is generally shorter-term, the increased concentrations of these compounds can lead to short-term impacts.
The Washington Post goes into more detail about the body’s response to air pollution and how this impacts mental health, and we recommend reading it for more details. However, for now, one thing is clear - the dangers of wildfire smoke are physical and mental.