Under the Hood

Study Claims Air Pollution Can Make You Bipolar, At Risk Of Depression

Air pollution has long been known to be damaging the environment and the human body. Now, another problem linked with poor air quality is the increasing cases of neurological disorders in the U.S. 

A new study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, suggests that the effects of air pollution can contribute to the development of bipolar disorder and depression. The finding adds to the growing list of health issues associated with pollution, such as lung cancer and stroke.

The researchers found that the counties in the U.S. with poor air quality have 27 percent higher cases of bipolar disorder and 6 percent for depression. Separate studies in London, China and South Korea also provided the same findings that communities with poor air quality have high cases of poor mental health, National Geographic reported Tuesday

For the latest study, researchers collected information from health insurances of 151 million people who reported psychiatric disorders in the U.S. and Denmark. The team also looked at air, water and land quality data in each U.S. county.

“These findings add to the current evidence from previous studies of a possible link between air pollution and psychiatric disorders,” Ioannis Bakolis, an epidemiologist from King’s College London, who was not involved in the study, said. 

Air pollution was also linked to schizophrenia. Majority of the people who had mental health issues were residents of the counties with high levels of air pollution since childhood.

Researchers explained that poor air quality potentially contributed to mental disorders because of inflammation in the respiratory tract. Such inflammation spreads across the body and also affects the brain. 

Another potential cause is that some air pollutants could enter the brain through the nose and directly cause inflammation and damage, The Guardian reported Tuesday

More studies are required to support the link between air pollution and neurological disorders. But researchers said future efforts confirm their findings, the medical community may change how it treats and prevents mental health issues. 

“Unlike genetic predisposition, environment is something we can change,” Andrey Rzhetsky, study author and a geneticist at the University of Chicago, said. 

Air Pollution Long term exposure to air pollution is widely known to worsen asthma and reduce lung function. Pixabay

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