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Air quality and mental health: evidence, challenges and future directions

Bhui, K. ORCID:, Newbury, J. B., Latham, R. M. ORCID:, Ucci, M., Nasir, Z. A., Turner, B., O'Leary, C., Fisher, H. L. ORCID:, Marczylo, E., Douglas, P., Stansfeld, S. ORCID:, Jackson, S. K., Tyrrel, S., Rzhetsky, A., Kinnersley, R., Kumar, P., Duchaine, C. and Coulon, F. ORCID: (2023) Air quality and mental health: evidence, challenges and future directions. BJPsych Open, 9 (4). e120. ISSN 2056-4724

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1192/bjo.2023.507


Poor air quality is associated with poor health. Little attention is given to the complex array of environmental exposures and air pollutants that affect mental health during the life course. We gather interdisciplinary expertise and knowledge across the air pollution and mental health fields. We seek to propose future research priorities and how to address them. Through a rapid narrative review, we summarise the key scientific findings, knowledge gaps and methodological challenges. There is emerging evidence of associations between poor air quality, both indoors and outdoors, and poor mental health more generally, as well as specific mental disorders. Furthermore, pre-existing long-term conditions appear to deteriorate, requiring more healthcare. Evidence of critical periods for exposure among children and adolescents highlights the need for more longitudinal data as the basis of early preventive actions and policies. Particulate matter, including bioaerosols, are implicated, but form part of a complex exposome influenced by geography, deprivation, socioeconomic conditions and biological and individual vulnerabilities. Critical knowledge gaps need to be addressed to design interventions for mitigation and prevention, reflecting ever-changing sources of air pollution. The evidence base can inform and motivate multi-sector and interdisciplinary efforts of researchers, practitioners, policy makers, industry, community groups and campaigners to take informed action. There are knowledge gaps and a need for more research, for example, around bioaerosols exposure, indoor and outdoor pollution, urban design and impact on mental health over the life course.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:112628
Uncontrolled Keywords:policy, mental health, research, pollution, Air quality
Publisher:Cambridge University Press


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