Individuals suffering from headache might have a reason to start living green. A recent study from Chile reveals that increased levels of pollution in the air may contribute to headaches.

Researchers in Santiago Province, Chile studied the effects of various pollution factors including ozone, carbon monoxide, air pollutants and particulate matter associated with burning gasoline and other fossil fuels, on all types of headache. This province in Chile is one of the best places to conduct such a study due its high population density and its location in a valley surrounded by mountains, which makes it extremely prone to pollution.

Although the study authors recommend further studies be conducted in different geographic regions to test for consistency, in Chile they found that on days of high pollution, headaches severe enough to require hospitalization rose substantially. More specifically, migraine was the type of headache most consistently associated with individual air pollutants, while ozone was the pollutant most consistently associated with headache in single-pollutant models.

“If this association proves to be causal, the morbidity from headache should be included when estimating the illness burden and economic costs of air pollution,” the study authors wrote in the September 2009 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Based on their findings, they suggest that headache sufferers stay indoors on days of high pollution.