Air Pollution Tied to Aggravated Risk of Mental Health Problems, Study Finds

A recent study has discovered that higher ambient levels of ozone (O3) or fine particles (PM2.5) appeared to aggravate the risk of mental health problems. Although underlying biological mechanisms remain poorly understood.

Photo: Air Pollution Increases Risk of Mental Health Problems | InStyleHealth


The data used for this research were generated from the US Environmental Protection Agency and from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Mental health outcomes evaluated included psychosis, neurosis, substance use, depression, schizophrenia, self-harm/suicide, and mood/affective disorders, among others.

During the observation period, a total of 1,997,992 mental health-related emergency department visits were reported, most of which were due to homicides or injuries purposely inflicted by other persons. There were more than 100,000 cases each for depression and bipolar-related issues were recorded, and nearly 200,000 visits for self-harm/suicide were logged.

For each 10-ppb increment in the 7-day average level of O3 associated with a 1.52% increase in the possibility of ED visits for mood and affective disorders. Particularly, risks for bipolar and depression were heightened.

The seven-day ozone was likewise correlated with greater self-harm/suicide ED visits, while 30-day averages were linked to homicide/inflicted injury and neurotic disorder visits.

Likewise, each 10-µg/m3 increment in short term PM2.5 exposure associated with all mental health-related ED visits, specifically for neurotic disorders and inflicted injuries.

The researchers said that while the research literature is increasing, there still exists a knowledge gap on how air pollution is affecting mental health among subgroups. Future epidemiological studies should continue examining the effects of pollutant exposure by gender, age, and ethnicity. The study’s findings also support the need to better understand the biological mechanisms between exposure to air pollution and mental health outcomes.

For the complete details of the clinical research, you may click here.


Source: PLoS One 2021;doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0249675

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