Is there a link between air pollution and psychotic experiences in teens?

Teenagers who live in areas with poor air quality could be at greater risk of experiencing psychosis, researchers have found.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, was based on data from 2,232 children in England and Wales. At least 30% of the study participants had at least one psychotic experience as a teenager. The study found that those who were exposed to nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides, or fine particulate matter were at a greater risk of experiencing psychosis.

Although the results of the study are significant, researchers agreed that more work is needed to assess how other risk factors may contribute to psychotic experiences.

“The possibility that air pollution may contribute to mental health outcomes like psychotic events is very important and needs to be understood,” Marc Weisskopf, Cecil K. and Philip Drinker Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Physiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a March 28, 2019 Newsweek article.

Weisskopf, who was not involved in the study, added “I think it is important to avoid excessive air pollution exposures, although at this stage I think there are more established outcomes that make that important.”

Read the Newsweek article: Air pollution could be causing psychotic experiences in teenagers