Impact of air pollution on depression and suicide

Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2018 Dec 20;31(6):711-721. doi: 10.13075/ijomeh.1896.01277. Epub 2018 Oct 3.


Air pollution is one of the greatest public health threats worldwide. All substances appearing in excessive quantities in the atmosphere, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides or sulphur oxides may be its ingredients. Depending on their size and nature, these compounds may cause greater risk of suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular diseases for exposed people as well as exacerbation and increased mortality due to these illnesses. Smaller particles may penetrate the brain's blood barrier and thus affect the central nervous system. In many studies, they have been shown to have negative effects on brain structure, like diminishing white matter or neuronal degeneration, leading to the earlier onset of Alzheimer or Parkinson disease. Nevertheless, there are reports of association of air pollution with mood disorders, depression, and even suicide. There are many risk factors for these conditions, most important of which are the social situation or chronic diseases. However, it has also been confirmed that the environment may affect mental health. This article will present experimental, clinical and epidemiological studies on exposure to air pollution and its impact on depressive disorders and suicide. Our goal is to determine the relationship between air pollution and incidence of depression and suicides. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2018;31(6):711-721.

Keywords: air pollution; air quality; depression; mental health; mood disorders; suicide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide*


  • Air Pollutants