Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Poor air quality affects mental health in many ways, according to a new review of evidence published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Houses with factory in the background © Shutterstock

Led by Professor Kam Bhui at the University of Oxford, researchers in the UKRI-funded BioAirNet programme, analysed existing studies looking at the effects of both indoor and outdoor air pollution across the life course, from birth and pregnancy, to adolescence and adulthood.

They found evidence that exposure to air pollutants may lead to depression, anxiety, psychoses, and perhaps even neurocognitive disorders, such as dementia. There were also indications that children and adolescents might be exposed to air pollution at critical stages in their mental development making them at risk of the most severe impact and significant future mental health problems.

Additional risk factors included poor housing, over-crowding, poverty, a lack of green spaces as well as individual social and psychological vulnerabilities, such as lack of access to support, carers or safe spaces.

Read the full story on the Department of Psychiatry website