October 16, 2021

Hüseyin Babal

Health Article

Air pollution also affects happiness

4 min read

In studies on the effect of air pollution on happiness, it has been seen that the level of happiness of citizens is closely related to the cleanliness of the air.

Gross domestic product has long been used to measure the welfare of a country, but it is clear that this alone is not enough to measure the happiness of its citizens. Because as a country gets richer, its environmental characteristics also begin to suffer. The number of green areas is decreasing, air pollution is increasing. Experts have long studied the positive mental health impact of citizens’ access to parks or the water’s edge. But more recently, researchers are also beginning to understand that air pollution can also negatively affect mental health and well-being.

Air pollution is known to harm our health, reduce our mental performance and reduce productivity at work. It is a well-known fact that it is associated with infant mortality and respiratory diseases. The World Health Organization says that 7 million deaths each year are caused by air pollution.

Although objective statistics such as the number of deaths and chronic diseases help us understand the effects of air pollution, we still cannot adequately measure the impact of polluted air on our lives. This is because there is a parallel between air quality and general mental health and unhappiness.

Creative research methods

To test this, the researchers conducted a long-term experiment with people living in the vicinity of power plants in Germany that are starting to use new air filtration systems. Before people were put on a filter, surveys were conducted to indicate their level of happiness. These surveys were then repeated after the filters were placed. It was determined that there was a great increase in the happiness of people living in windy areas from the region where the power plant is located, after the installation of filters. There was no change in the happiness level of people who did not live close to the power plant or did not receive wind from that area.

A similar study was carried out in China. Researchers analyzed posts shared with location information on the social network Weibo, known as China’s Twitter. These articles were categorized according to their emotions. Then, the air pollution data of the locations where the articles were sent were examined. The researchers observed that the articles written on days when air pollution increased in a region were more negative and there was a general unhappiness.

Happiness should be considered separately from health and money

We know that air pollution has a negative impact on health, but its impact on happiness needs further research. The reasons why polluted air makes people unhappy may be worrying about their own health or the health of others. Experts also think that the sight and smell of polluted air also affects a person’s perceptions. Air pollution is also thought to be associated with cognitive impairment, but more research is needed in this area as well.

In a social policy, improving the well-being of citizens is, of course, a fundamental aim. However, personal feelings need to be included in the policies that have been generally carried out on the income and physical health of citizens until now. How individuals feel in the conditions they are in and how happy they describe themselves should also be a part of social policy. Reducing air pollution can be one of the most fundamental developments that will improve the overall quality of life by improving both physical and mental health.

Source: World Economic Forum

In studies on the effect of air pollution on happiness, it was seen that the level of happiness of citizens is closely related to the cleanliness of the air. The researchers conducted a long-term experiment with people living in the vicinity of power plants in Germany that are starting to use new air filtration systems. Before people were put on a filter, surveys were conducted to indicate their level of happiness. These surveys were then repeated after the filters were placed. It was determined that there was a great increase in the happiness of people living in windy areas from the region where the power plant is located, after the installation of filters. A similar study was carried out in China. Researchers examined posts shared with location information on the social network Weibo, known as China’s Twitter. These articles were categorized according to their emotions. Then, the air pollution data of the locations where the articles were sent were examined. The researchers observed that the articles written on days when air pollution increased in a region were more negative and there was a general unhappiness.

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