Top 5 tips to save yourself of BRAIN damage caused by air pollution
According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.2 and 3.8 million people die early each year due to external and indoor air pollution, respectively
There have been studies conducted since the 1970s which show that high levels of air pollution can harm both cardiovascular and respiratory health, increasing the risk of early death from heart and lung diseases. By contrast, the effects of air pollution on the central nervous system (CNS) or the brain are not broadly recognized. Now, evidence is mounting suggesting dirty air is bad for your brain as well.
Particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5):
The most concerning component from air pollution which causes brain damage is Particulate matter or PM2.5, generally comes from smoke, dust, and vehicle exhaust. Since PM2.5 is so tiny—30 times smaller than the width of the average human hair—it can remain airborne for long periods of time, infiltrate buildings, and penetrate the body. Studies suggest that these tiny particles can even go up the nose and be carried straight to the brain via the olfactory nerve —hence bypassing the blood–brain barrier.
Let’s understand what are the different mental disorders PM2.5 is linked with:
- Dementia and Cognitive Function: Exposure to contaminated outdoor air is considered an environmental risk factor that promotes brain aging. In recent times,many studies have reported that the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease is increased by exposure to fine PM(PM < 2.5 μm) .
- Stroke: Research indicates that short-term exposure to air pollution is associated with an increased risk of stroke and acute coronary syndromes such as myocardial infarction. Several studies have shown continuous exposure to PM2.5 in the cause of stroke
- Depression: According to a WHO report, more than 300 million people are living with depression, with an increase of 18% from 2005 to 2015. The risk of depression is significantly increased with long-term exposure to PM2.5 and short-term exposure to PM10, NO2, SO2, and CO.
- Multiple Sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that is caused by inflammatory reactions or neurodegeneration. Several studies have investigated the correlation between air pollution and MS. In addition,there is a study that examined the changes in brain MRI findings of MS patients due to PM10 exposure confirmed that PM10 caused MS favoring inflammatory reactions.
- Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a mental disorder affecting more than 21 million peopleShort-term exposure to air pollution (PM10, SO2, and NO2) was associated with an increased risk of daily outpatient visits because of schizophrenia.
- Neurodevelopment : Studies suggest that continuous exposure to high levels of ambient air pollution during pregnancy can lead to a greater negative effect on brain development than exposure during childhood. Because the structure of the brain is established during fetal life, exposure to substances originating in air pollution in utero can lead to permanent brain damage or to cognitive impairment in old age
5 Top Tips to protect yourself from brain damage caused by air pollution:
Particulate matter and Ultra fine dust comes from different sources in different places. Hence no one strategy to mitigate will help. A combination of strategies should be adopted to protect oneself from the harmful effects of air pollution. Minimizing exposure is the most effective way to minimize damage
- Wear masks to avoid severe outdoor pollution.
- Avoid outdoor exercises and activities when the pollution levels are high. Check the air quality before stepping out.
- Ventilate only when the outdoor air is clean
- Opting for public transportation and using electric or hybrid vehicles can help reduce missions and thereby bringing down particulate matter.
- Cleaning the indoor air: Use high performance air purifiers to clean the air indoors. Airpura I600 has a medical grade HEPA filter ,100 square feet to be exact, which helps in removing the particulates from the air and bring down the count to zero.