Impacts of Air Pollution
Air Pollution Retards Brain Development
The American Psychological Association reports startling connections between air pollution and decreased cognition and well-being. Michigan public schools located in areas with the highest industrial pollution levels had the lowest attendance rates and the greatest percentage of students who failed to meet state testing standards, even after controlling for socioeconomic differences and other confounding factors.
Air Pollution Causes Depression
The scientist Mohan Kumar found air pollutants, specifically particulate matter, induce inflammation and oxidative stress in brains that lead to depression. Vert et al found that the rate of depression was 2 times higher for each 10 μg/m3 increase in nitric oxide level. Szyszkowicz reported a 7.2 percent increase in the risk of emergency department visits for depressive episodes with every 19.4 μg/m3 of PM10 concentration.
These findings have important implications because most of the world's population resides in areas where particulate matter concentrations are greater than the WHO guidelines, and the association between air pollution and depression cannot be ignored.
Air Pollution Damages Eyesight
Air pollution has been linked to harming the eyes. Previously, scientists found a link between dirty air and the development of glaucoma.
A recent UK study has found that this causal relationship also exists between air pollution and an increased risk of irreversible sight loss from age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD is a leading cause of irreversible blindness among the over-50s in high-income countries. The researchers determined that exposure to smaller polluting particles raised the likelihood of AMD by 8 percent. Larger polluting particles and nitrogen dioxide were even more harmful, raising the risk for negative retinal changes by 12 percent.
Air Pollution Causes Psychosis
For decades, scientists have repeatedly found a link between living in cities and the development of psychoses. While there are a number of factors at play here, recent research seems to indicate that living in an area with high air pollution raises the likelihood of getting psychotic experiences between 45 and 72 percent.
Air pollution spreads Covid-19
A frightening link has been established showing air pollution is a transport medium for the Covid-19 virus. Those in areas with worse air pollution are far more at risk of dying due to viruses like Covid-19, which attach to the particulate matter. These spread easily and far in the air, and being so small are also more easily ingested to penetrate deep into the body.
Air Pollution Kills Crops
India is one of the largest global producers of rice, wheat, and cotton. A new study in Geophysical Research Letters found that, in one year, damage from ozone pollution – the main component of smog – cost the country millions of tons of crops, worth more than $1 billion.
Air Pollution Reduces Solar Power
Economic shutdowns caused by Covid-19 have led to considerable reductions of pollution levels in the air. The skies have become significantly cleaner as a consequence thereof. In Germany, this has enabled solar panels to operate so much more efficiently that it even caused problems!
This reduction in the efficiency of solar panels is yet another stark reminder of the hidden costs of air pollution.
Air Pollution Kills Bees
Bees are critical as pollinators, needed to ensure we can grow food to eat. Air pollution is increasingly and worryingly linked to harming bees' ability to pollinate our global food crops. The growing threat to global food security is cause for some alarm, and already has a massive economic impact due to reduced crop yields resulting from (largely avoidable) pollution humans are causing.