Increase in Mental Disorders Due to Dirty Air and Temperature Instability!

Health | September 11, 2019, Wednesday // 18:49|  views

This is according to a study by scientists from the United States and Denmark.

Scientists from the United States and Denmark have proven that the risk of mental illness depends on the quality of the air, and Chinese scientists add that temperature fluctuations also have effect on our mental health. 

Over the last two decades, there has been a sharp increase in the number of mental disorders, in particular autism. This is very disturbing and at the same time requires explanation.

Many genetic groups have been found, mutations in which significantly increase the risk of mental illness. However, the long-term observations of the twins do not allow to completely write off the origin and development of these conditions due to genetics. Scientists are inclined to conclude that a complex combination of hereditary, social and environmental factors plays a role here.
Scientists have long noted that in large cities the proportion of people with mental disorders is higher than in rural areas. This draws attention to air quality.

For example, in 2013, US researchers analyzed data on more than 7,000 children born with autism spectrum disorder and their mothers  lived in Los Angeles during pregnancy. Experts have mapped the data from the air surveillance and address of residence. Ozone and toxic particulate matter pollution below 2.5 micrometers has been shown to increase the risk of autism by 12-15%. The risk of contamination with oxides and nitrogen dioxide is increased by 9%.

By 2014, six results of controlled studies were published that revealed a link between autism and urban air quality. But what is its mechanism? A possible explanation is the work of scientists at the School of Medicine at the University of Rochester (USA). They put rodents every day for the first two weeks and months of their lives in a room filled with the same polluted air as in peak hours on medium-sized city streets. Then they examined their brains and found that all participants in the experiment showed signs of inflammation, and the lateral ventricles increased three times compared to normal; white blood cells have not developed enough in them. In nerve tissue, the level of glutamate neurotransmitter was increased. Such changes are characteristic of people with autism and schizophrenia.

Air pollution from nitrogen dioxide and microparticles in London in 2007, recorded on a map compiled by scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry and clinics in the UK and the US, increased the risk of mental health problems for 18-year-olds who spent the first years of their lives its in the most polluted areas of the city.

In China, the problem of air quality is particularly acute. One of the latest studies has been published by scientists from Beijing University and Qinghua University. They observed about 20,000 residents in 25 provinces across the country. People were asked to evaluate their mental well-being from 2010 to 2014: scientists were interested in the frequency of depression, nervousness, frustration.

More than anything, mental health has proven to be dependent on smog, where there are many ultra-fine particulate toxins (less than 2.5 micrometers in size) and instability in daily temperature.

Finally, a large-scale study on the link between ecology and mental illness was presented in late August by scientists at the University of Chicago (USA) and Aarhus University (Denmark). They cite data on 151 million insurance claims in the United States from 2003 to 2013 and 1.4 million patients born in Denmark from 1979 to 2022 and living there for the first ten years of their lives.

To complete the picture in the United States, scientists also considered the contribution of social factors such as access to health insurance, income, population density, and descent (heredity) - whether they were ancestors from Europe or Africa or were Native Americans.

The highest risk of developing major depression is observed among immigrants from Europe.

Schizophrenia and epilepsy are more common in African Americans. The risk of bipolar disorder increases by 27% in areas with poor air quality compared to the national average. Poor quality of life in the country increases the risk of personality disorder by 19.2%.

The results for Denmark are as follows: People who grew up in areas of the country with the most polluted air have a 162% higher risk of personality disorder, 148% of schizophrenia and 29.4% of bipolar disorder. And while it is impossible to compare these results directly with the US, the trend is noticeable.

The problem is also that it is not yet possible to prove the cause-and-effect relationship between air pollution and mental disorders: too many other harmful factors and stress surround the urban population. As for the mechanism of such a link, the authors of the study provide three hypotheses - oxidative stress in brain cells and, as a result, their damage, death and, consequently, damage to the genetic material.

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Tags: depression, mental disorder, air pollution, temperatures, europe, United States


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