A study conducted by The University of Chicago found a causality between exposure to pollution and an increasing incidence of neuropsychiatric problems.
A study that gathered data on populations in the United States and populations in Denmark concluded that poor air quality, associated with pollution, is correlated with an increased incidence of neuropsychological problems in both countries, notes Medicalxpress.
“Our studies in the United States and Denmark have shown that populations living in polluted areas, especially in the early years of life, are more prone to psychological problems,” said Dr. Atif Khan, author of the cited study. “These neurological and psychiatric problems, which come with high financial and social costs, seem to be related to the quality of the environment,” he added.
Dr. Atif Khan’s team used a database that aggregated insurance and health information for over 151 million people in the United States. This information, which spans over a period of 11 years, provides data on the evolution of people who have undergone psychiatric consultations. The researchers analyzed this information with information related to the incidence of atmospheric pollutants provided by the American Environmental Protection Agency.
Scientists have observed that in the administrative units with the lowest air quality, the incidence of bipolar disorder has increased by 27%, while the cases of major depression are present with more than 6%. Also, following the analysis of the gathered information, a correlation between soil pollution and the increased risk of personality disorders was identified.
Because of the correlations between the types of pollution and the neuropsychological problems that were identified in the case of the United States, the scientists decided to validate their findings by applying the methodology to data obtained from another country. Thus, they selected Denmark and with the help of researchers and local and national authorities collected the same information they collected in the United States.
After the analysis of the data collected in Denmark was completed, the researchers observed that, to a large extent, the correlations tend to be similar in both cases.
Although the study has not extensively addressed the issue of how air pollution is responsible for triggering neuronal problems, a number of animal studies suggest that inflammation of the neuroinflammatory pathways by pollutants is a possible cause.