Air pollution is linked to bipolar disorder and major depression

A new study suggests a significant link between exposure to environmental pollution and an increase in rates of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Air pollution is a challenge and it has been linked to all kinds of health problems, with lifelong effects ranging from loss of lung function to asthma, obesity, diabetes and neurological disorders. And now a new study from the University of Chicago Medical Center adds to pollution’s reputation by suggesting a link between pollution and neuropsychiatric disorders. Some cities like London, UK, people are moving away due to the air pollution.

Looking at large population data sets from the United States and Denmark, the researchers found that in both countries, poor air quality was associated with increased rates of bipolar disorder and major depression.

The studies in the United States and Denmark show that living in polluted areas, especially early in life, is predictive of mental disorders. These neurological and psychiatric diseases – so costly in both financial and social terms – appear linked to the physical environment, particularly air quality.

Based on the research, the US counties with the worst air quality had a 27 percent increase in bipolar disorder and 6 percent increase in major depression when compared to those with the best air quality. The team also found a strong association between polluted soil and an increased risk of personality disorder.

In comparison Denmark mirrored those in the United States: a 29 percent increase for those in counties with the worst air quality. Using this more specific Danish data, the team found early childhood exposures correlated even more strongly with major depression (a 50 percent increase); with schizophrenia (a 148 percent increase); and with personality disorders (a 162 percent increase) over individuals who grew up in areas with the highest quality air.

The study, “Environmental pollution is associated with increased risk of psychiatric disorders in the US and Denmark,” was published in PloS Biology.

All in all key to keep our air clean, we share the same air globally and need to keep it clean!

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