Inhaling polluted air increases the risk of depression

Long-term breathing of polluted air increases the risk of depression, according to two recent studies, adding to growing evidence of the impact of harmful pollution on mental health.


The first study, published last week in the journal Gamma Psychology, included a group of about 390 people in the UK who were followed for about 11 years, and the levels of pollution they were exposed to were studied based on their home addresses.


The researchers studied the levels of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO), which are polluting gases from fossil fuel power plants and road traffic.


PM2.5 is defined as particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less, and PM10 as a particulate matter with a diameter of 10 microns or less.


multiple pollutants


The researchers concluded that “long-term exposure to multiple pollutants is associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety.”


“While air quality standards in many countries still far exceed the latest recommendations of the World Health Organization in 2021, more stringent pollution standards or rules should be defined,” the study authors said.


As for the second study, published Friday in the journal “Jama Open Network”, it focused on the effect of fine particles (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone (O3) on people over 64 years of age.


The study included 8.9 million people, including 1.5 million suffering from depression, and dealt with the impact of air pollution on suffering from depression at an advanced stage of life.


The study was based on a database from Medicare, a health insurance system for the elderly in the United States.


Strong link between pollution and depression


The result showed a strong link between pollution and depression, specifically by monitoring levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide.


This link may be explained by the relationship observed between higher concentrations of pollutants and inflammation in the brain, according to the two studies.


“There is a strong link between inflammation and depression,” said Oliver Robinson, a professor of neuroscience and mental health at University College London who was not involved in the studies.


He explained that the results of the two studies “add to the growing evidence that we should be concerned about the effects of pollution on mental health, in addition to the more clear links between pollution” and respiratory diseases.

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