Fatigue and air pollution

If you have been feeling tired, air pollution could be the culprit. In addition to various other health issues ranging from cancer to respiratory disease, studies are showing that poor air quality can lead to fatigue in both adolescents and adults. Read on to learn more about how air pollution could be causing you fatigue and what you can do to protect yourself.

Tired woman rubbing her temples while reading a book

What is air pollution?

When the air is polluted, there are gaseous chemicals and particles that are suspended and circulate in the air. This is caused by emissions created by vehicles, industry such as power plants, the use of chemical products, and combustion heating in homes, to name a few sources. Some of the main types of air pollutants are nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Read more about other types of air pollutants and their sources here.

Studies show air pollution’s effects on physical and emotional health

A study performed on adolescents over a 2-year period tested a group of 422 adolescents (average age of 15) in Los Angeles County, California. The goal was to determine whether these individuals felt a greater sense of fatigue and emotional distress on days where air pollution was more severe. And indeed, when the air contained higher levels of NO2 and CO, the individuals reported feeling greater fatigue the day after exposure1.

Adolescents are particularly sensitive to their physical environments due to the rapid biological and neurological changes they are experiencing through puberty and physical growth. One study in Asia showed that adolescents who are exposed to more air pollution report higher levels of anxiety and stress, while another study in the UK showed that youth between the ages of 10 to 12 living in areas with higher levels of air pollution were more likely to suffer from depression by the age of 181.

A depressed adolescent sitting in a car park with her head in her hands

In China, a marked increase in hospital admissions for emotional health problems has been observed on days where air quality was worse – especially when high levels of NO2 were reported – and continuing up to seven days afterwards, notably for schizophrenia and depression. In addition to emotional health issues, physical health is impacted during days of peak pollution with more hospital admissions for asthma and airway obstructions as observed in both China and India1.

Another study performed on police officers who are exposed to noise and air pollution on a daily basis highly recommended immediate implementation of environmental protection policies to protect people from the fatigue that can be caused by air pollution, particularly caused by ozone and fine particles2.

How can we protect ourselves from air pollution-related fatigue?

There are a few things that we can do to help ward off the effects of poor air quality. The first is knowing and understanding the levels of air pollution at any given time in your area. The UK has developed a useful website for tracking air quality in real-time: https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/. Using it on a consistent basis will help you understand the trends in your area and throughout the country as a whole.

Knowing that indoor air is 7-10 times more polluted than outdoor air, another great way to protect yourself from contaminated air is by ensuring that your home and workplace are regularly and properly ventilated. Opening windows and doors frequently to allow fresh air to replace stale air is crucial in pushing air pollution out of your space.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to ventilate your space due to security concerns, extreme temperatures outdoors, and/or high levels of outdoor air pollution. The latter may pose concerns even when you are able to ventilate your space because if outdoor air pollution enters and becomes trapped inside, it may further put your health at risk. An excellent way to breathe fresh air at home and at work is to purchase an air purifier.

Eoleaf offers high-end air purifiers with the most advanced technologies available on today’s air purification market which includes a multi-layered HEPA-certified filter (pictured below). HEPA filters are able to filter 99.97% of particles of a size greater than or equal to a diameter of 0.01 µm in a single pass, including fine particle pollution up to PM0.1 that may lead to fatigue.

Additionally, our air purifiers contain a broad spectrum of filtration technologies and action, meaning they remove other indoor contaminants that may lead to allergy symptoms and fatigue including:

By breathing fresh, pure air in the spaces in which you spend the most of your time (remember: humans spend 90% of their time indoors!), you can protect yourself from fatigue and the other negative health effects caused by air pollution. Let our team of air purification experts help you breathe cleaner air today.

Woman reading and smiling next to Eoleaf's AERO PRO150 air purifier


1 Armstrong-Carter, E., Fuligni, A. J., Wu, X., Gonzales, N., & Telzer, E. H. (2022). A 28-day, 2-year study reveals that adolescents are more fatigued and distressed on days with Greater No2 and Co Air Pollution. Scientific Reports, 12(1). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-20602-z

2 Jazani RK, Saremi M, Rezapour T, Kavousi A, Shirzad H. Influence of traffic-related noise and air pollution on self-reported fatigue. Int J Occup Saf Ergon. 2015;21(2):193-200. doi: 10.1080/10803548.2015.1029288. PMID: 26323778.

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