The scientists Atif Khan and Andrey Rzhetsky of the University of Chicago found in regions with particularly poor air quality, increased case numbers for bipolar disorders, and other diseases, as they report in the journal “Plos Biology”.

For the USA, the researchers analysed data from health insurance for 151 million people. They investigated the prevalence of four psychiatric disorders – bipolar disorder, severe Depression, personality disorder and schizophrenia) and neurological diseases, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

“These neurological and psychiatric diseases – both financially and socially very costly, seem to be with the physical environment, particularly air quality,” is Khan cited in a communication from his University. The health data compared to the researcher with the air quality of the respective residential district, which they took the information from the U.S. EPA.

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In regions with the worst air quality, sick six percent more people suffer from severe Depression than in areas with particularly good air. In the case of bipolar disorder the disease, there was an increased risk of 27 percent.

In the second part of the study, the researchers then analyzed a Danish treatment and environmental register, which includes more than 1.4 million people who were born between the beginning of 1979 and the end of 2002 in Denmark. Here, the Rate of severe depression was higher in areas with the highest air pollution levels by a good 50 percent higher than in the clean areas.

Also for the other mental disorders, the researchers found in Denmark increased values: The risk for personality disorders was increased by 162 percent, for schizophrenia to 148 percent. For bipolar disorder, the increase of 24 per cent was similar to that in the US data.

The difference in the results, the authors explain the odds of the evaluated data: “It is likely that this difference is due to the limited resolution of the pollutant estimates for the U.S. data,” they write. But also the composition of the pollutants or country-specific genetic variations may play a role.

number of possible distortions

In a comment in “Plos Biology” criticized John Ioannidis from the Stanford University in the study “a significant deficiency and a long series of possible distortions”. The environment had been measured in the U.S. part of the data in the years 2000 to 2005, while disease diagnoses were from the years 2003 to 2013. “This analysis and subsequent studies in this field would benefit from rigorous, carefully specified protocols, which will be registered, before the data are analyzed,” writes Ioannidis.

in Spite of this criticism, Tilo Kircher from the University of Marburg clinic for psychiatry and psychotherapy, considers the study is an important contribution to medical research: “it is reaching hopefully further research in this area.” The strength of the study, the huge number of data.

Kircher considers the results to be plausible, even if he is surprised that the analysis of US data revealed only for bipolar disorder a significant connection with air pollution. The expert refers to the results from animal experiments, according to which the fine dust and pollutants, inflammation in the brain could trigger. (SDA)

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