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HomeHealth & Fitnessdepressed? anxious?Air pollution may be a factor

depressed? anxious?Air pollution may be a factor

A digital illustration in watercolor and pencil shows a human with a melancholy expression at the center of the image. Their head is encircled by air pollution that billows up from surrounding smoke stacks. The background depicts a city at night. (Oona Tempest / KFF Health News)

In the 1990’s, residents of Mexico City noticed that their dogs were behaving strangely – some People don’t recognize their dog owners, and the animals’ sleep patterns change. Fifteen million people are considered the most polluted region in the world, with a thick smog of fossil fuel pollution trapped by a heat inversion.

In 2002, Lilian, a toxicologist and neuropathologist affiliated with the University of the Valley of Mexico in Mexico City and the University of Montana Calderón-Garcidueñas examined the brain tissue of 40 dogs living in the city and another 40 dogs living in a city near a rural area with cleaner air. She found that the brains of urban dogs showed signs of neurodegeneration, while the brains of rural dogs were much healthier.

Calderón-Garcidueñas went on to study the brains of 203 human residents of Mexico City, all but one of whom did not show neurodegeneration sign. The conclusion from this is that long-term exposure to air pollution can negatively affect the olfactory system of people at a young age and may make them more susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Calderón-Garcidueñas said the pollutant that played a “significant role” was particulate matter. “Not big ones, but small ones that can cross barriers. We can detect nanoparticles inside neurons, inside glial cells, inside epithelial cells. We also see things that shouldn’t be there at all — titanium, iron and Copper.”

Mexican Works What scientists are doing is providing a wealth of evidence that breathing polluted air can cause more than just heart disease and lung damage, it can also lead to neurodegeneration and mental health problems.

It is well known that air pollution can cause serious damage to the human body, affecting almost every organ. Asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, premature death and stroke are among a long list of problems that can be caused by exposure to air pollution, which according to the World Health Organization tops the list of global health threats, killing 7 million people. year’s death toll. Children and infants are especially susceptible.

Unraveling the effects of air pollution on the brain is much more difficult than on other organs, according to the researchers, due to It is inaccessible, so it has not been thoroughly studied. Whether air pollution causes or contributes to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s is inconclusive. But Calderón-Garcidueñas’ work is at the forefront, showing that air pollution can enter the brain directly through the air we breathe, where it can have serious effects.

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Some psychotherapists report seeing The patient’s symptoms come from air pollution. Pollution doesn’t just cause symptoms or make them worse; it also takes away all forms of relief.

“If we exercise and spend time in nature, we become more resilient,” Chris said Ting Greenwald, an environmental social worker and an adjunct professor at the University of Denver. “A lot of people do that outside. It’s their coping mechanism; it soothes the nervous system.”

in Polluted Days in, many of her clients “can’t go outside without feeling like they’re making themselves sick or more miserable.”

Megan Herting, who studies the effects of air pollution on the brain at Southern University in California, said environmental factors should now be factored into physicians’ evaluations, especially in places like Southern California and the Front Range in Colorado, where high levels of air pollution are a long-standing problem. The problem.

“When I go to the clinic, they rarely ask me where I live and what my family situation is like,” she said. explain. “Where we live and what we are exposed to matter when thinking about prevention and treatment.”

Last two decades , with the advent of new technologies, the study of air pollution and its effects on the human nervous system has advanced by leaps and bounds.

Research shows that when tiny particles are inhaled through the nose and mouth and go directly to the brain, they bypass the body’s filtration system . Fine and ultrafine particles from sources such as diesel exhaust, soot, dust and wildfire smoke often contain hitchhiking metals, exacerbating their effects.

Climate change may exacerbate the effects of air pollution on the brain and mental health. The warmer temperatures react with the car’s exhaust emissions to produce more ozone than when it was colder. More and bigger forest fires are expected to mean more smoky skies.

Ozone is associated with neurodegeneration, brain plasticity, neuron death, learning and memory impairment. Ozone levels were extremely high in Los Angeles and the Western Valley, including the Colorado Front Mountains, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

Air pollution can also cause damage from chronic inflammation. When air pollution particles enter the brain, they are mistaken for bacteria and attacked by microglia, a component of the brain’s immune system, and remain activated.

“Your body doesn’t like being exposed to air pollution, it creates an inflammatory response,” says researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Patrick Ryan said in an email. “Your brain doesn’t like it either. There are over 10 years of toxicology and epidemiology studies showing that air pollution causes neuroinflammation.”

Research focuses on how pollution can lead to mental health problems.

Damage to the brain is especially harmful as it is the main control panel of the body and pollution damage can lead to a A series of neuropsychiatric disorders. A major focus of recent research has been how damage from pollution affects areas of the brain that regulate mood, such as the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus. For example, damage to the amygdala, which processes fearful experiences, can lead to anxiety and depression. In a recent review, 95 percent of the studies looked at physical and functional changes in brain regions that regulate mood, suggesting air pollution has an effect.

Researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Peking Universities and Imperial College London published a study in JAMA Psychiatry in February The very large study, which tracked the incidence of anxiety and depression in nearly 400,000 adults in the UK for a median length of 11 years, found that even long-term exposure to low levels of a combination of air pollutants – particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and a Nitric Oxide – Also increases the incidence of depression and anxiety.

Another recent study by Erika Manczak of the University of Denver found that adolescents exposed to ozone were expected There is a dramatic increase in depressive symptoms during the process.”

But epidemiological studies are flawed because confounding factors are difficult to account for. Some people may be genetically predisposed, while others are not. Some people may experience chronic stress or be very young or very old, which increases their vulnerability. People who live near lots of green space experience less anxiety and may be less susceptible to it.

“People living in areas with greater exposure to pollutants are often underresourced in many ways and are struggling to address many systemic problems. There are more reports of stress, depression and anxiety,” Manczak said. “Given the marginalization of these areas for many reasons, it is difficult to say that this is due to air pollution.”

Most A good way to be sure is to conduct a clinical trial, but this raises ethical questions. “We can’t just expose our children to air pollution,” Ryan said.



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