Medicare patients were more likely to be diagnosed with depression when their exposure to particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone was higher.
An investigation reported in the journal JAMA Network Open found a link between prolonged exposure to air pollution and a higher risk of late-onset depression in older persons.
In the other study, which was also published in JAMA Psychiatry, it was discovered that even low levels of long-term exposure to air pollution were linked to an increased risk of developing both depression and anxiety.
Researchers examined Medicare data for over 9 million older persons from 2005 to 2016, of whom more than 1.5 million received their initial diagnosis of depression later in life.
Exposure to Various Types of Pollution
Some people experienced longer-term exposure to air pollution, such as that caused by ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), depending on where they lived. It was discovered that those in this group had a higher chance of developing depression later in life than those who had less exposure to air pollution.
Particle pollution is a mixture of liquid and solid droplets in the atmosphere. It can seem like soot, smoke, dust, or dirt. It is produced by automobiles, agriculture, unpaved roads, building sites, and coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, as well as by wildfires.
PM2.5 can bypass your body’s normal defenses since it is so little (1/20th of the width of a human hair).
According to the findings, the incidence of depression increased by 0.91, 0.61, or 2.13 percent for every five units more of PM2.5, nitrogen oxide, or ozone pollution in the air.
It may become trapped in your lungs or enter your bloodstream instead of being expelled when you exhale. The particles irritate and inflame the respiratory system and may also cause other health issues. Exposure increases the risk of sadness and anxiety and has long been linked to an increased risk of cancer, stroke, or heart attack. It can also aggravate asthma.
Most frequently, combustion by-products from transportation are linked to nitrogen dioxide pollution. Along with the combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas, traffic is another source of nitrogen oxide emissions. Exposure can worsen airway inflammation, make you cough or wheeze, and impair your lung capacity.
Smog’s primary constituent is ozone pollution. Cars, power plants, and refineries all contribute to it. Long-term exposure studies indicate a higher risk of death from respiratory disorders in persons with higher exposures. This particular pollutant is most recognized for aggravating asthma symptoms. It’s one of the “least well-controlled pollutants in the United States,” according to the American Lung Association, and it’s also one of the most harmful.
According to the study, those who were exposed to nitrogen dioxide and also had comorbid conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or congestive heart failure had an even higher risk of developing depression.
The socioeconomic condition of a person is another issue that the study emphasizes. According to this study, socioeconomically disadvantaged persons were shown to be at a substantially higher risk of late-life depression. They are simultaneously subjected to air pollution, poor environmental conditions, and social stress.
Some restrictions apply to the study. To determine whether there would be a difference across diverse groups, more study would be required because the bulk of the individuals was White.
Because this research was conducted at the population level, it is impossible to determine why those who are exposed to this amount of air pollution have a higher chance of developing depression.
The impact that climate change will have on this occurrence is of special concern to scientists. Ozone pollution will grow as the planet warms, and the study discovered that ozone pollution had a higher link with late-onset depression than particle pollution and nitrogen dioxide pollution.
Since ozone pollution and warming temperatures are undoubtedly related to one another, it makes more sense for the government to enact regulations on pollution and climate mitigation as a result of the alarming effect we are seeing with ozone.