Air Pollution & Mental Illness
New research on children from the UK has found higher rates of mental illness among young adults exposed as kids and teenagers to high levels of traffic-related air pollution. Signs of mental illness were most likely to develop and be recognized at age 18, the transition to adulthood, according to the study’s first author, Aaron Reuben, of Duke University. He wrote that while the link between air pollution and mental illness in young adults is modest, “harmful exposures are so widespread around the world, outdoor air pollutants could be a significant contributor to the global burden of psychiatric disease.” The study found that while air pollution was a weaker risk factor than a family history of mental illness, it was as significant as other neurotoxicants known to harm mental health, particularly childhood exposure to lead.
Aaron Reuben et al, “Association of Air Pollution Exposure in Childhood and Adolescence With Psychopathology at the Transition To Adulthood.” JAMA Network Open, 2021 DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.7508
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