Short-term effects of air pollution on cause-specific mental disorders in three subtropical Chinese cities


Background: The effects of ambient air pollution on specific mental disorders are rarely studied, and the reported results are inconsistent.

Objective: To assess the short-term effect of ambient air pollution on the morbidity of mental disorders in three subtropical Chinese cities.

Methods: Daily concentrations of air pollution were averaged from 19 fixed monitoring stations across each city, and data on patients were collected from three psychiatric specialty hospitals. A time-series study combined with a generalized additive Poisson model was conducted to investigate the association between air pollution and mental disorders. The exposure-response relationships were explored and stratified analyses by age and sex were conducted.

Results: A total of 1,133,220 outpatient visits were recorded in three subtropical cities (Huizhou, Shenzhen, and Zhaoqing). The number of daily outpatient visits for mental disorders increased with higher air pollutant (PM2.5, PM10, SO2 and NO2) concentrations, and the effect of NO2 appeared to be consistently significant across the three cities, with excess risk (ER) of 4.45% (95% CI: 2.90%, 6.04%) in Huizhou, 7.94% (95% CI: 6.28%, 9.62%) in Shenzhen, and 2.19% (95% CI: 0.51%, 3.89%) in Zhaoqing, respectively, at lag03. We also observed significant effect of PM2.5 at lag0 (ER=1.20%, 95% CI: 0.28%, 2.13%), PM10 at lag0 (ER=0.99%, 95% CI: 0.36%, 1.62%), and SO2 at lag0 (ER=10.74%, 95% CI: 3.20%, 18.84%) in Shenzhen. For specific mental disorders, significant associations were found in all the air pollutants except between SO2 and affective disorder and between PM2.5 and schizophrenia. In addition, we found that air pollution exhibited stronger effects for males and adults (≥18 years).

Conclusion: Acute exposure to air pollution, especially NO2, might be an important trigger of mental disorders.

Authors: Huan Li, Shiyu Zhang, Zhengmin Min Qian, Xin-Hui Xie, Yang Luo, Rong Han, Jiesheng Hou, Chongjian Wang, Stephen Edward McMillin, Shaowei Wu, Fei Tian, Wen-Feng Deng, Hualiang Lin
; Full Source: Environmental research 2020 Sep 15;110214. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110214.