A new study conducted by a team of researchers has found that people living in polluted cities are more likely to die by suicide. Scientists who part in this research made this conclusion after reviewing several studies from 16 countries that looked into the long-term mental effect of breathing polluted airborne particles.
During the study, researchers found that an increase in the level of pollution drastically elevated the rate of suicides and depression diagnosis. Researchers believe that the toxic particles emitted by cars and industry result in inflammation in the brain and affect the stress hormone level - both of which have been linked to causing poor mental health.
Pollution increases suicide and depression
Researchers revealed that the average exposure to PM2.5, the finest type of particulate matter was 44 micrograms per meter cubed (ug/m3). Researchers noted that the rate of depression and suicide increased by 10 percent for every 10ug/m3 above this amount. It should be noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended countries to maintain pollution levels under 10ug/m3. However, more than 90 percent of countries exceeded this level.
Researchers noted that pollution levels were the highest in Delhi and Dhaka (114 and 97 ug/m3 respectively), while in Ottawa and Wellington, the pollution level was just six. As per estimates, the average particulate matter level in cities of the United Kingdom is 12.8 ug/m3.
"We already know that air pollution is bad for people's health, with numerous physical health risks ranging from heart and lung disease to stroke and a higher risk of dementia. Here, we're showing that air pollution could be causing substantial harm to our mental health as well, making the case for cleaning up the air we breathe even more urgent. We found quite consistent results across the studies we reviewed that analyzed the relationship between long-term air pollution exposure and depression, even after adjustment for many other factors which could explain the association," said Dr Isabel Braithwaite, a researcher at the University College London, and the lead author of the study in a recent statement.
Researchers are now planning to follow up on their study with further research into indoor air health, and its impacts on mental health.
Effects of high carbon dioxide levels on the atmosphere
Another recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, the Colorado School of Public Health and the University of Pennsylvania had found that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could negatively impact the cognitive abilities of students studying in classrooms.
As per this study report, if the fresh air outside opened classroom windows has high levels of carbon dioxide, the cognitive abilities of students will be considerably reduced by around 50 percent.