Unhappiness Linked to Air Pollution
Canadian researchers have reported a relationship between air pollution and happiness. The more air pollution a country has, the greater the level of reported unhappiness from its citizens.
Air pollution causes a wide range of acute and chronic health effects. The precise nature of ill health varies according to the mix of pollutants but it is well established that respiratory conditions, cancers and cardiopulmonary diseases add to number of premature deaths worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease study, most of the early death burden (65%) occurs in Asia, but every country has its towns and cities that suffer with regular levels of air pollution.
Air pollution comes from vehicles, industrial and domestic sources. In an urban environment the air is likely to contain a long list of noxious substances such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter, lead and heavy metals and more besides. With the exception of some developing nations the levels of pollution from industrial and domestic sources are reducing. However, traffic pollution is worsening worldwide.
Byron Lew and Mak Arvin of Trent University in Ontario, Canada, examined the pollution records of fourteen European countries and compared these with survey data from a citizen happiness scale. They focused on carbon dioxide levels and concluded those countries with higher air pollution also had the lowest measures of happiness.
In another Sharepost I write about depression and toxins and the fact that insufficient information exists as to the neurological and mental health effects that long-term exposure to toxins may have. The Trent University findings have a similar dilemma in that they stop short of offering a mechanism as to how happiness and air pollution (or vice versa) are related. The authors however feel their findings could offer some incentive to policy makers to promote cleaner air.
Cohen. A. J. et al (2005) The global burden of disease due to outdoor pollution. Journal of Environmental Health. July 9. 23. 68 (13-14): 1301-7.
Inderscience (2013, January 18). Air pollution and unhappiness correlated, study of Europeans shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 14, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/01/130118125955.htm