Whether we want to believe it or not, our well-being is continually being influenced by our environment. Many people assume that city-dwellers are better off than their rural counterparts. This belief is due in part to greater access to medical services, health education, and transportation options.
We are finding now that this assumption may only be partially true. Some of the risks associated with city-living include a nearly 40% higher risk of depression, more than a 20% increase of anxiety, and double the risk of schizophrenia.
The environmental factors that may affect a city-dweller are broad in range. The first factor in a long list is air pollution. Air pollutants range from diesel emissions and ozone to particulate matter and benzene. Recent research has associated these types of airborne contaminants to conditions such as cognitive impairments, increases in ADHD symptoms and even increases in a neuroinflammatory and autoimmune response. Air pollution has also been associated with the number of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and asthma.
A second environmental stressor commonly found in city environments is noise. Noise is a problem because it results in annoyance or other negative emotions which induce psychophysiological stress responses. Research suggests there may also be a pathway between noise and depression related to noise activation of the acoustic nerve.
Other dangers include human-made electromagnetic fields, bisphenol A (BPA), pesticides, and heavy metal exposure. Many of these are widely used in the production of plastics, food, and in products as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi routers and cell phones.
The above video from the World Health Organization (WHO) goes into detail about how environmental pollutants enter your body.