Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global study

Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global study - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global study

Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global study

Cutting toxic air might prevent millions of people enduring depression, research suggests

Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global study - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

Skopje in North Macedonia is Europe’s most polluted capital city according to the WHO. New research suggests links between air pollution and mental illness. Photograph: Georgi Licovski/EPA

People living with air pollution suffer higher rates of depression and suicide, a systematic review of global data has found.

Cutting air pollution around the world to the EU’s legal limit could prevent millions of people enduring depression, the research suggests. This assumes that exposure to toxic air is causing these cases of depression. Scientists believe this is likely but is difficult to prove beyond doubt.

The particle pollution analysed in the study is produced by burning fossil fuels in vehicles, homes and industry. The researchers said the new evidence further strengthens calls to tackle what the World Health Organization calls the “silent public health emergency” of dirty air.

“We’ve shown that air pollution could be causing substantial harm to our mental health, making the case for cleaning up the air we breathe even more urgent,” said Isobel Braithwaite, at University College London (UCL), who led the research.

Meeting the EU limit could make a big difference, she said: “You could prevent about 15% of depression, assuming there is a causal relationship. It would be a very large impact, because depression is a very common disease and is increasing.” More than 264m people suffer from depression, according to the WHO.

“We know that the finest particulates from dirty air can reach the brain via both the bloodstream and the nose, and that air pollution has been implicated in increased [brain] inflammation, damage to nerve cells and to changes in stress hormone production, which have been linked to poor mental health,” Braithwaite said.

Joseph Hayes, also at UCL and part of the research team, said: “The evidence is highly suggestive that air pollution itself increases the risk of adverse mental health outcomes.”

The research, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, used strict quality criteria to select and pool research data from 16 countries published up to 2017. This revealed a strong statistical link between toxic air and depression and suicide. This is supported by more recent research, including studies that linked air pollution with extremely high mortality” in people with mental disorders and a quadrupled risk of depression in teenagers.

Other research indicates that air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence and is linked to dementia. A comprehensive global review earlier in 2019 concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body.

The data analysed in the new research linked depression with air pollution particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres (equivalent to 0.0025 millimetres and known as PM2.5). People exposed to an increase of 10 micrograms per cubic metre in the level of PM2.5 for a year or more had a 10% higher risk of getting depression. Levels of PM2.5 in cities range from as high as 114µg/m3 in Delhi, India, to just 6µg/m3 in Ottawa, Canada.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: