Scientists have found a link between long-term exposure to air pollution and a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
Researchers from Peking University analyzed the records of 389,000 people in the United Kingdom over a 10-year period. The findings were published in the journal Jama Psychiatry.
Annual exposure to air pollution was assessed at each participant's address, including PM2.5 -- tiny particles that are so small they can pass through the lungs into the bloodstream -- and nitrogen dioxide, which is emitted by vehicles.
During the decade, 13,131 people were diagnosed with depression and 15,835 with anxiety.
The analysis showed that those exposed to the most air pollution were 16 percent more likely to develop clinical depression and 11 percent more likely to develop anxiety compared to those exposed to the least pollution.
This provides further evidence to support reducing current levels of air pollution in the United Kingdom, the researchers note.