Air quality and mental health: evidence, challenges and future directions

K Bhui, Joanne Newbury, Rachel Latham, Marcella Ucci, Z. A. Nasar, B Turner, C O’Leary, Helen Fisher, E. Marczylo, P. Douglas, S Stansfeld, S. K. Jackson, Sean Tyrrel, A. Rzhetsky, R Kinnersley, P. Kumar, C. Duchaine, F. Coulon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Poor air quality is associated with poor health. Little attention is given to the complex array of environmental exposures and air pollutants that impact mental health during the life course.

Aims: We gather interdisciplinary expertise and knowledge across the air pollution and mental health fields. We seek to propose future research priorities and how to address them.

Methods: Through a rapid narrative review, we summarise the key scientific findings, knowledge gaps, and methodological challenges.

Results: There is emerging evidence of associations between poor air quality, both indoors and outdoors, and poor mental health more generally as well as specific mental disorders. Furthermore, pre-existing long term conditions appear to deteriorate requiring more health care. Evidence of critical periods for exposures among children and adolescents highlights the need for more longitudinal data as the basis of early preventive actions and policies. Particulate matter, including bioaerosols, are implicated, but form part of a complex exposome influenced by geography, deprivation, socio-economic conditions, and biological and individual vulnerabilities. Critical knowledge gaps need to be addressed to design interventions for mitigation and prevention, reflecting ever-changing sources of air pollution. The evidence base can inform and motivate multi-sector and interdisciplinary efforts of researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, industry, community groups, and campaigners to take informed action.

Conclusions: There are knowledge gaps and a need for more research, for example, around bioaerosols exposure, indoor and outdoor pollution, urban design, and mental health impacts over the life course.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere120
JournalBJPsych Open
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2023


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