Friday, 26 January 2018

Air Pollution and Mental Disease


A study from Hong Kong has apparently demonstrated a strong link between air pollution and deaths in people with a range of mental disorders (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/26/air-pollution-linked-to-extremely-high-mortality-in-people-with-mental-disorders). The study was based on a decade of mortality statistics and essentially found a much increased death rate on hazy days in people with depression, schizophrenia, dementia et cetera. There could, of course be some complicating factors e.g. people with dementia tend to be older (and hence less resistant to pollution) and individuals with mental disorders may be forced by economic circumstances to live in areas where air pollution is greatest. The authors suggest that the hazy conditions exacerbate depression. It is striking, however, that the UK government has reportedly used some £370,000 of tax payer's money, attempting (unsuccessfully) to legally overturn demands that they do something urgently about the illegal levels of air pollution (mainly nitrogen dioxide) emanating from road traffic in our major cities. The fact that air pollution particularly kills people with mental health issues should stop planners attempting to  defer putting solutions into place.

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