Air pollution clears all over the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The Coronavirus crisis has a huge positive impact on the air as air pollution is clearing drastically over the past couple of weeks.

This is something that scientists observe from space using earth-observing satellites. They measure the traces of gases such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, and methane in the air which are the main reason for the polluted air on Earth.

Nasa and the European Space Agency have released the data from these satellites (from Sentinel-5 satellite to be exact) and the nitrogen dioxide levels over China and Italy are extremely low – and they still remain low. Spanish cities Madrid and Barcelona are also following this pattern and the nitrogen dioxide levels in the air are dropping.

Usually, the nitrogen dioxide oxidizes in the air when wood and coal is burnt. Another cause is cars, trucks, and other vehicles. It is dangerous for our health – most specifically for our lungs.

Polluted air is proven to cause respiratory issues as well as cancer. The World Health Organization says that the polluted air is responsible for seven million deaths every year.

The good thing is that the pollution clears up almost overnight when the sources of the pollution are removed – and because of the pandemic the air is clearing up very easily.

Does the air pollution in London affect mental health?

We are all very aware that the air in London is extremely polluted but can it affect our mental health?

It’s not a secret that in the past the visible presence of polluted air was a huge inspiration for writers and painters but what about now? Charles Dickens did brilliantly referred to it as a metaphor for the greed and corruption of people. Then the smog was very visible but today it’s no longer so visible at ground level. Regardless of that, the toxic air does indeed have a huge negative impact on mental health, and we should all be aware of that as well.

The impact on our physical health

This topic is very discussed and is recognized. For example, in 1952 the air pollution in London was the reason people had respiratory problems, and research shows that approximately 12,000 deaths were due to air pollution. This phenomenon was named as the ‘‘London’s Great Smog’’.

The impact on our mental health

In comparison to the previous topic, this one is not so much discussed. But this does not eliminate the problem.

Recent research shows that the risk of developing depression is 50 percent higher due to the toxic air we breathe. Depression seems to be the most talked-about mental disorder. Another mental disorder – bipolar disorder, has a 29 percent higher risk of being developed due to polluted air.

Sadly, the chance of developing schizophrenia which is one of the scariest mental disorders is at 147 percent higher due to breathing polluted air.

A Swedish investigation that was recently made revealed that areas, where the air is heavily polluted, have higher rates of prescribed medications for mental disorders.

Why is polluted air so bad for our mental health?

There still isn’t much information and studies that are being made on this topic but one big possibility is that air pollutants enter our bloodstream due to inhalation. Then they reach our brains which causes harmful impacts.

A second discussed possibility is that due to polluted air people spend less time outdoors socializing and exercising which does not release endorphins and other hormones that boost our moods.

How can we change this?

Don’t immediately think that leaving London or other highly polluted cities is going to solve the issue. Moving to the countryside is indeed tempting but guess what – the countryside can be even more polluted than the city. This statistic is indeed very surprising but true.

The impact that people can have on the air is enormous. We can all start with avoiding highly polluting vehicles. We can also be more involved and educate ourselves on the topic of polluted air.

How polluted London really is?

Pollution is a huge problem in London – a much bigger than you can even think of.
Some research was made and the Kings College London states that air pollution kills around 9,500 on average each year.
It’s so serious that even members of Parliament said that this is a national health emergency.
London reached the legal air pollution limit for the whole year in only a few weeks at the beginning of last year. Overall in the Unitel Kingdom, around 40,000 deaths have been due to air pollution and have caused cancer, strokes, heart diseases, diabetes, and asthma reported the Royal College of Physicians.
London, as we all know, has always had problems with air pollution. In 1952 a huge cloud of smog reduced the visibility and a lot of people were rushed to hospitals. This smog, mixed with the cold weather and the fact that people had cheap coal that generates power in their homes, created huge chaos.
A couple of days later, this smog had killed 4,000 people and more than 8,000 passed away due to complications. Children that survived this disaster, known as the Great Smog, were more likely to develop asthma.
The Parliament then passed the Clean Air Act (1956) – there were areas with smoke control where only smokeless fuels could be burned, power stations were relocated away from cities, and by 1980 everyone thought that this problem is solved but this was far from the truth.
In recent years, the air was becoming a huge problem for everyone living in London again. Of course, this does not kill people that have decided to walk down the streets but it’s still dangerous.
One of the main causes are diesel vehicles – but actually, research shows that all vehicles are a problem. Even the ones that are electric are still polluting the air.
Children, since their lungs are less developed, have a higher risk of developing pneumonia, suppression of lung function, and other lung illnesses.