Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Dirty Air and Depression

People living with air pollution have 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 becoming depressed, the research suggests. 

“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. “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. Scientists say small increases in risk can still result in harm to many people because more than 90% of the global population lives with air pollution above WHO-recommended levels. “This is something everyone is exposed to, so at the population level it is potentially concerning,” said Braithwaite.

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.

No comments: