Air pollution and mental health issues in adults


In a 2019 analysis in PLOS Biology, researchers looked at mental health data from 151 million people in the United States and 1.4 million people in Denmark, focusing on four specific psychiatric disorders:

  • bipolar disorder
  • major depressive disorder
  • personality disorder (like conduct disorder)
  • schizophrenia

At this large scale, researchers found that long periods of increased air pollution, such as that found in major urban areas, may be linked to a nearly 17% rise in cases of bipolar disorder.

This also held true for major depressive disorder, with air pollution believed to have increased depression diagnoses by up to 6%, and personality disorder, with increases in diagnoses by almost 20% in some cases.

Researchers pointed out that particulate matter, including PM2.5 and ultrafine particles like the dust in Dubai, were likely the most significant causes of the increases.

After analysing a series of earlier studies, the researchers also found the following links between airborne pollutants and mental health:

  • Pollutants get into the lungs and cause inflammation in the windpipe and lungs. This can also inflame the nervous system.
  • Nervous system inflammation increases inflammatory cytokines in the body and activates microglia that react to stress. This body-wide inflammation can damage DNA.
  • Pollutants can get into the brain through thin nasal mucous membranes. Here, neurons can transport PM2.5 through your olfactory (smell) system into brain tissue, resulting in long-term brain damage.
  • Pollutants that get into the brain can damage the brain itself as well as the limbic system, which consists of brain structures responsible for how the body processes and responds to emotions and memories.
  • Over time, repeated exposure to PM2.5 can cause more and more damage to the limbic system, potentially worsening mental health symptoms or increasing their incidence.

The airborne pollution (PM2.5) score in Dubai is routinely 4-5 time higher than the maximum recommended by the World Health Organisation.

And we are breathing it at home, in the office, in schools and in our cars. It is everywhere.

But good news is at hand! AirSafe and Sanders Filters can protect your home and your car.

If you want help to protect your office or your children’s schools, just call us on 050 818 4614