Air pollution linked to emotional problems

Exposure to common air pollutants during pregnancy may predispose children to problems regulating their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors later on, according to a new study. Also, some studies link air pollution with symptoms of depression in an elderly population.

Air pollution linked to emotional problems

Exposure to common air pollutants during pregnancy may predispose children to problems regulating their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors later on, according to a new study. Also, some studies link air pollution with symptoms of depression in an elderly population.

 

Although the effect of air pollution on various diseases has been extensively investigated, few studies have examined its effect on depression and various emotional problems.

In first place, a new study led by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and New York State Psychiatric Institute, examined the effects of being exposed to a common air pollutant, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), on self-regulating behaviors and social competency during childhood.

PAH are common in the environment, coming from emissions from motor vehicles; oil, and coal burning for home heating and power generation; tobacco smoke; and other combustion sources.

Lead investigator Amy Margolis and colleagues analyzed maternal blood samples and child tests results from 462 mother-child pairs, determining maternal exposure to PAH. Investigators found that children whose mothers had higher exposure to PAH in pregnancy had significantly worse scores on the DESR or Deficient Emotional Self-Regulation Scale,  at ages 9 and 11 than children whose mothers had lower exposure to PAH in pregnancy.  Over time, children with low exposure followed a typical developmental pattern and improved in self-regulatory function, but the high-exposed children did not, underscoring the long-term effect of early-life exposure to PAH, according to the study’s findings.

On the other hand, talking about the elderly, a recent study led by the environmental health perspectives was based on an a priori hypothesis that air pollution may affect depressive symptoms, because air pollution is known to induce oxidative stress, a potential cause of depression. Researchers examined the effect of air pollution on symptoms of depression among the elderly in Seoul, Korea, from 2008 to 2010, by evaluating depressive symptom test scores, as well as individual symptoms that contributed to the overall score.

This study evaluated data from 560 participants who regularly visited a community welfare center for the elderly located in Seongbuk-Gu. This region is one of 25 districts in Seoul, Korea, located in the northern midsection of the city where approximately 460,000 residents reside in an area approximately 25 km2. Researchers examined the effect of three pollutants; PM10, NO2, and O3 and found that increasing concentrations of them were significantly associated with depressive symptoms measured repeatedly among an elderly population in Korea.

This study examined which items combined were associated with air pollutants. A factor analysis clustered 15 items into three groups (emotional, somatic, and affective symptoms). Responses related to emotional symptoms were increasingly negative as air pollution increased. However, responses related to somatic and affective symptoms were not significantly associated with increases in air pollution. These researches help moms, kids and the elderly to understand the risks of being exposed to major pollutants, in order to prevent emotional problems in life.

Prepared by

Top
We use cookies to improve our website. By continuing to use this website, you are giving consent to cookies being used. More details…