The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Long-term exposure to pollution linked to depression, study finds

By Kelly Kasulis Cho

02 Feb 2023 · 2 min read

Editor's Note

Fossil fuels may be having a negative impact on your mental health. The Washington Post breaks down research that shows air pollutants are linked with a greater risk of depression.

Long-term exposure to even low levels of air pollution is linked to increased incidence of depression and anxiety, a U.K. study suggests, adding to a wave of evidence that fossil fuels may be negatively impacting mental health.

Researchers in the United Kingdom and China followed nearly 390,000 adults in the U.K. for roughly 11 years and found long-term exposure to multiple air pollutants was associated with a greater risk of depression and anxiety. These pollutants — which include fine particulate matter, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide — are commonly emitted into the air when fossil fuels are burned for vehicles, power plants, construction equipment and industrial work.

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