Pollution and mental health linked

by Kelley Kaufmann, APRN-CNP, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Center for Health Equity Engagement Education and Research

A recent journal publication in PLOS Biology examined the correlation between environmental pollution and risk for neuropsychiatric disorders using two large data sets. The findings reveal that environmental pollution does appear to be associated with increased risk for psychiatric disorder, especially bipolar disorder and major depression.  For me, this  immediately triggered thoughts from the “Undesign the Redline” exhibit sponsored by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.  This was an “interactive exhibit exploring the history of race, class and U.S. housing policy, and how this legacy of inequity and exclusion continues to shape our communities.”

If this study is correct, red lined areas on the East side of the Cleveland (downwind of all of the industrial facilities and pollution in Cleveland) are directly in the path of elevated levels of air pollution and thus should see increased rates of psychiatric illnesses.  Obviously, psychiatric disorders are not caused by one factor (although perhaps it exacerbates or is a triggering factor) but I thought this article was interesting in its approach to examining the environmental impacts of air pollution on neuropsychiatric disorders.

PLOS Biology article