Air pollution leads to increased mental illness and decreases intelligence: Study

WION Web Team
London, United Kingdom Published: Aug 27, 2021, 07:24 PM(IST)

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The study also pointed out that increased dirty air is related to increased number of suicide cases, and children who grow up in polluted areas face the danger of developing mental disorders

A group of scientists have claimed that more exposure to air pollution would directly lead to increased mental health issues.

The research was conducted on nearly 13,000 people living in London. After carefully studying the data, experts found out that there is an 18 per cent increase in the risk of people needing medical treatment in hospitals and 32 per cent increase in the risk of people requiring community-based treatment if there is even a small increase in exposure to nitrogen dioxide.

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"Air pollution is modifiable, and on a big scale as well, reducing population-level exposure," said Joanne Newbury, of the University of Bristol, part of the research team. "We know there are interventions that can be used, such as expanding low-emission zones. Mental health interventions at the individual level are actually quite difficult."

This study can be assumed to be relevant for majority of the developed cities in first world countries, especially those dealing with increased air pollution.

Experts studied the frequency of hospital admissions and people visiting community doctors and compared it with increase in air pollution level. Small increases in air pollution can lead to severe increase in depression and anxiety levels, especially in developed countries.

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The study also pointed out that increased dirty air is related to increased number of suicide cases, and children who grow up in polluted areas face the danger of developing mental disorders.

Additionally, increased air pollution can also decrease intelligence level and cause more cases of dementia.

Researchers have suggested that even a small reduction in even one pollutant alone could lead to a decrease in mental health related illness.

"Identifying modifiable risk factors for illness severity and relapse could inform early intervention efforts and reduce the human suffering and high economic costs caused by long-term chronic mental illness," the researchers said.

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