Living by a busy road or in polluted cities can increase your risk of suffering from depression and suicide, scientists warn. Picture: IANS
Living by a busy road or in polluted cities can increase your risk of suffering from depression and suicide, scientists warn. Picture: IANS

Air pollution in cities linked to depression, suicide

By COLIN FERNANDEZ Time of article published Jan 4, 2020

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London - Living by a busy road or in polluted cities can increase your risk of suffering from depression and suicide, scientists warn.

Researchers found that high levels of air pollution can cause "substantial harm" to people’s mental health.

In a review of studies analysing the effects of airborne pollutants known as particulates – microscopic soot from vehicle exhausts and fires – it was found that exposure to high levels of the smallest PM2.5 particles was linked to increased risk of depression, while a larger type known as coarse particulates, or PM10, raised the chances of suicide.

Particulates are already linked to physical health problems such as lung disease.

“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.

Braithwaite further added: "Air pollution increases the levels of inflammation in the brain, which has been linked with depression."

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.

The results show strong correlations, but research that would prove a causal link is difficult because ethical experiments cannot deliberately expose people to harm, The Guardian reported.

Daily Mail

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