Air Pollution Makes People Feel Sad, According To A New Study

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According to a new study conducted by researchers at MIT and the University of Beijing, and published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, air pollution is not just increasing the risks of diseases in the affected populations in the world, but it also makes people feel sad. This new research is the first to establish a direct connection between the number of particulates in the air and happiness.

Previous studies established that air pollution represents a threat to human health, cognitive functions, educational results, productivity at works, and many more. The new research confirmed those adverse effects of air pollution but also added a new one. Accordingly, air pollution makes people unhappy.

“Pollution also has an emotional cost. People are unhappy, and that means they may make irrational decisions,” said Dr. Siqi Zheng from the MIT’s Department of Urban Studies.

A New Study Revealed That Air Pollution Makes People Feel Sad

“We investigate the effect of air pollution on our happiness index. The results reported document a negative relationship between air pollution and the happiness index,” the researchers noted in the study.

To reach that conclusion, the scientists analyzed air pollution data across 144 Chinese cities and estimated those cities’ population happiness index by monitoring more than 210 million messages on Weibo, China’s largest microblogging and social media platform. The researchers established that there’s a link between air pollution and sadness.

According to the research, every surge in air pollution above a healthy level made the happiness index drop by 0.04 points. While that might not seem much, for China, it represents a lot since the air pollution index can cross over the 700 level, by about 4.5 times higher than the 151 pollution index recently recorded in London. And that index was by 100 points higher above the healthy limit. Besides, the new study also revealed that women are more sensitive to air pollution than men.