High Levels of Air Pollution Tied to Increased Use of Mental Health Services

Findings seen for older adults with dementia
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 9, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to residential air pollution is associated with increased use of community mental health services among people with dementia, according to a study published online Aug. 7 in BMJ Mental Health.

Amy Ronaldson, Ph.D., from King's College London, and colleagues examined longitudinal associations between air pollution exposure and mental health service use in people with dementia. The analysis included 5,024 people (aged 65 years and older) with dementia.

The researchers found that in the first year of follow-up, increased exposure to all air pollutants (nitrogen dioxide [NO2] and particulate matter [PM2.5 and PM10]) was associated with an increase in the use of community mental health services in a dose-response manner. For the highest air pollution quartile versus the lowest, associations were strongest (e.g., NO2: adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.27). Even at five and nine years, dose-response patterns between PM2.5 and use of mental health services persisted. For patients with vascular dementia, associations were strongest. There were associations between NO2 levels and poor functional status, but not cognitive function.

"Efforts to reduce pollutant exposures in urban settings might reduce the use of mental health services in people with dementia, freeing up resources in already considerably stretched psychiatric services," the authors write.

One author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract/Full Text

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