Air pollution may impact mental health, study says


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Tyler Chalfant | August 27th, 2019

Air pollution may be linked to bipolar disorder and depression, according to a study recently published in PLOS Biology Journal. Researchers examined the health data of millions of patients in the United States and Denmark and found that patients exposed to poor quality air were more likely to be diagnosed with each of these conditions. 

Research conducted on dogs and rats had previously shown that air pollution can cause brain inflammation and symptoms resembling depression, and scientists say it is likely that human brains can be exposed to pollution in similar ways. 

Some critics claim that this study raises an “intriguing possibility” in linking air pollution to psychiatric disorders but fails to make a clear case. Besides bipolar disorder and depression, the study also tested for links between pollution and schizophrenia, personality disorder, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease, and failed to find a significant correlation. 

While potential links between pollution and mental health remain largely unexplored, the negative effects of air pollution on physical health have long been known. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution causes about 3.8 million premature deaths annually through heart disease, stroke, respiratory illnesses, and cancers. 

Air pollution has grown worse in most low and middle-income cities over the past several years as demand for power and the use of private motor vehicles have increased, putting many people at risk of long-term health problems.

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