A new meta-analysis published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that exposure to higher levels of air pollution is associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing depression or committing suicide.
Researchers at the University College London conducted a meta-analysis of nine studies from across 16 countries linking air pollution with mental health issues.
A meta-analysis of five studies showed that a 10 µg/m3 rise in the average level of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure over long periods increased the risk for depression by 10 per cent. A meta-analysis of four studies showed an association between short-term changes in coarse particulate matter (PM10) exposure and the number of suicides.
Dr Isobel Braithwaite, the lead author, said: "We know that the finest particulates from dirty air can reach the brain via both the bloodstream and the nose, and air pollution has been implicated in increased neuroinflammation, damage to nerve cells and to changes in stress hormone production, which have been linked to poor mental health."