Consequences Of Air Pollution
Over the years, scientists have learned about the consequences of air pollution on human health. According to them, air pollution causes problems like cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Over the past couple of months, air pollution repeatedly made the headlines. The first time was after San Francisco was clouded by wildfire smoke. In the past week, Thai authorities also began firing water cannons in a bid to disperse heavy smog.
The results of a newly released study indicate that air pollution doesn’t only affect the lung and heart, but can also affect sleep as well as one’s mood.
Effects of Air Pollution On Sleep
In the study, the researchers considered the link that existed between obstructive sleep apnea on one hand placed against two common air pollutants namely nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5. PM2.5 is made up of 2.5 micrometers diameter or smaller particles. Power plants, burning wood, motor vehicles, agricultural fires as well as some industrial processes give rise to the production of these particles. According to the study’s authors, those living in areas that have these categories of pollution in higher frequencies had a higher likelihood of having obstructive sleep apnea.
This sleep apnea can be described as a serious disorder during which the breathing is repeatedly stopped and started again while one is sleeping. It occurs in instances where a person’s throat closes thereby blocking air flow.
The connection found between the pollution and this sleep disorder still existed even after the researchers put into consideration other factors likely to influence the results, like high blood pressure, body mass index, smoking, diabetes and also family income.
The participants of this study were about 1,974, and it was a group comprising of people from diverse races. The average age of the participants was 68, and so there is a possibility that the results of the research do not apply to people within other age brackets.
The estimates of the researchers were based on the exposure of each individual to air pollution at the person’s home making use of measurements gotten in 6 cities in the U.S. This study wasn’t a randomized and controlled trial and so it cannot show any form of cause and effect tie between the pollution and the sleep disorder.
How Air Pollution Affects The Airways
According to a sleep medicine expert, Dr. Ryan Donald, the study focuses on a quite interesting area, however additional research is still necessary. A lot of factors lead up to sleep apnea, and these factors have to be considered when carrying out subsequent studies. The factors include the airway shape, stressors, light pollution, noise pollution and the various kinds of sleep environments.
Also, the seasonal variations discovered in the connection that existed between the sleep apnea and air pollution in past studies could have been a result of some other factors. According to Donald, air pollution can lead to upper airway congestion. However, other things such as dust, mold spores, and pollen that causes allergies may also increase sleep apnea symptoms. These things are season dependent.
Effects Of Air Pollution On The Emotions
Not only can it affect your sleep, but air pollution may also have one form of effect or the other on your mood. In a study that was released in January, it was revealed that in some places in China people’s happiness (which was measured by the social media posts those people put out) reduced whenever there was an increase in air pollution.
Siqi Zheng, the lead researcher, noted that pollution could affect the emotions and when people are not happy, it may cause them to make a different kind of irrational decisions.
The study also highlighted that the impact which air pollution has on the mood might partly be a result of the direct physical effects and partly a result of the stress that comes with trying to stay away from this pollution.
The researchers discovered that there were stronger links in both the cleanest as well as the dirtiest cities. According to them, in the cleaner cities, those who love there dislike any form of air pollution and so it gets to them when the air gets polluted.
Also, those who reside in the dirtier cities understand the effects of this air pollution on their health in the long run and so when there is pollution, they are worried about the likely effects on their health.