Air pollution is associated with mental health issues

May 30, 2018

May is Mental Health Month
May is Mental Health Month

Several studies have shown that exposure to air pollution is linked with mental health issues. Since May is Mental Health Month we wanted to share some recent studies on this issue in a MAHA Research Round-Up.

Mental Health and Air Pollution Research

Sass, Victoria, Et al. 2017. The effects of air pollution on individual psychological stress. Health and Place. Sass et al. compared longitudinal, nationally representative panel data from the United States with census air pollution data and found that fine particulate matter is significantly associated with increased psychological distress.

Flores-Pajot, Marie-Claire, et al. 2016. Childhood autism spectrum disorders and exposure to nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter air pollution: A review and meta-analysis. Environmental Research. Flores-Pajot et al. conducted a review of current research on the link between autism and exposure to air pollution. The comprehensive review found only 12 studies that met the researcher’s criteria. The review concluded there is evidence that exposure to air pollution is associated with an increased the risk of autism, but more research is needed.

Pun, Vivian, et al. 2016. Association of ambient air pollution with depressive and anxiety symptoms in older adults: Results from the NSHAP study. Environmental Health Perspective. Examining mental health data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP) and fine particulate matter data from the US Environmental Protection Agency, researchers found a positive association between anxiety and depressive symptoms when vulnerable populations were exposed the fine particulate matter.

Oudin, Anna, et al. 2016. Association between neighborhood air pollution concentrations and dispensed medication for psychiatric disorders in a large longitudinal cohort of Swedish children and adolescents. BMJ. Researchers looked at the frequency and type of medication dispensed for a large cohort of children and adolescents in Sweden. Medications tied to psychiatric diagnoses (not including antidepressants and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) were increased in counties exposed to nitrogen dioxide, even at levels below the current standard.

Szyszkowicz, Mieczyslaw, et al. 2016. Air pollution emergency department visits for depression: A multicity case-crossover study. Environmental Health Insights. Researchers compared the number of emergency rooms visits for depression from the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System with the level of air pollution from Environment Canada. Results showed a positive association between exposure to ozone and emergency room visits for depression. This indicates there is a link between exposure to air pollution and depression.