Mental Health Problems May Be Linked To Increase In Air Pollution
Just as there is a call in London to increase awareness of air pollution with signs on public transport, we are learning more about the effects air pollution can have – especially to children
Shocking new research has revealed that relatively small increases in air pollution are associated with a significant escalation in psychiatric problems in children.
The study is published in the respected BMJ Open journal, an online, open access bulletin dedicated to publishing medical research. It examines the pollution exposure of more than 500,000 under-18s in Sweden and compares this with records of medicines prescribed for mental illnesses.
The pioneering research is particularly disturbing because it builds on existing evidence, concluding that children are particularly sensitive to poor air quality. This is probably because they are more active and their lifestyle means they spend more time outdoors, leading to more exposure….
The latest research can’t prove a causal link between the air pollution and increases in mental illness, but it is a fact that pollution can get into bodies and brains and cause inflammation, and animal studies indicate that inflammation is associated with a range of psychiatric disorders.
The worrying figures
Air pollution in the UK is above legal limits in many cities and is estimated to cause 40,000 early deaths a year. Though this only includes illnesses such as lung disease, heart attacks and strokes. Indeed, the evidence of poor air quality is mounting:
- An unpublished report for the Greater London Authority – Analysing Air Pollution Exposure in London – written in September 2013 said that in 2010, 433 of the city’s 1,777 primary schools were in areas where pollution breached EU limits for NO2.
- In May last year, a World Health Organisation report concluded that outdoor air pollution has grown 8% globally in the past five years and is rising ‘at an alarming rate’ in the world’s cities. Without effective precautions, outdoor air pollution can easily become indoor air pollution.
- A report last September published in the journal Nature found three million people a year suffer early deaths around the world from air pollution.
Children and others exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution may also be at increased risk of developing asthma. Heavily-used roads could be responsible for 15-30% of all new cases of asthma in children, and of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and coronary heart disease in adults aged 65 years and older.
ECEX can help
One line of defence is the HVAC equipment installed in modern buildings including schools. But the efficiency of these systems can be compromised by, for example, airborne debris clogging filters.
Air Intake Screens such as those supplied by ECEX can prevent this. They are fitted externally to air handling units, chillers, dry air coolers, cooling towers or air conditioning units and can have an instant positive impact on the quality of indoor air by helping to maintain the appropriate movement of air.
But the benefits don’t stop there. ECEX Air Intake Screens also help reduce the impact on machinery and reduce the need for maintenance thus saving money and reducing disruption.
ECEX customers are already feeling the benefits
The screens have been installed at a university in the South of England, where HVAC equipment was compromised due to the site’s surrounding flora and fauna. As a result of ECEX Air Intake Screens, maintenance times have been reduced, system efficiency has improved, and energy consumption has been cut by around 5 per cent, meaning the screens paid for themselves in less than 18 months. Finally, costly filter replacement frequency was halved.