Air pollution affects physical health, and new research results now conclude that it also affects our psychological health.
In a new study, researchers found that children who are exposed to a high level of air pollution while growing up, have an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
The study combines genetic data from iPSYCH with air pollution data from the Department of Environmental Science.
The research was conducted by a team at Aarhus University and elsewhere.
In the study, the team examined 23,355 people in total, and of these, 3,531 developed schizophrenia.
They found that the higher the level of air pollution, the higher the risk of schizophrenia.
For each 10 μg/m3 (concentration of air pollution per cubic meter) increase in the daily average, the risk of schizophrenia increases by approximately 20%.
Children who are exposed to an average daily level above 25 μg/m3 have an approximately 60% greater risk of developing schizophrenia compared to those who are exposed to less than 10 μg/m3.
To put these figures into perspective, the lifetime risk of developing schizophrenia is approximately 2%, which equates to two out of a hundred people developing schizophrenia during their life.
For people exposed to the lowest level of air pollution, the lifetime risk is just under 2%, while the lifetime risk for those exposed to the highest level of air pollution is approximately 3%.
Though the results demonstrate an increased risk of schizophrenia when the level of air pollution during childhood increases, the researchers cannot comment on the cause.
Instead, they emphasize that further studies are needed before they can identify the cause of this association.
The team says the risk of developing schizophrenia is also higher if people have a higher genetic liability for the disease.
The data shows that these associations are independent of each other.
The association between air pollution and schizophrenia cannot be explained by a higher genetic liability in people who grow up in areas with high levels of air pollution.
One author of the study is Senior Researcher Henriette Thisted Horsdal.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open.
Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.