Associations between air pollution and perceived stress: the Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study (23 page pdf, Amar J Mehta, Laura D Kubzansky, Brent A Coull, Itai Kloog, Petros Koutrakis , Avron Spiro III, Pantel Vokonas, Joel Schwartz, Environmental Health, Jan. 27, 2015)
Today we review research conducted in the Boston area with white older men whose exposure to air pollution was averaged over one to 4 weeks over a period of 12 years and compared with a stress index, Perceived Stress Scale, for the previous week. Stress has been found to be associated with depression and depression with a greater risk of heart disease and death. Results indicate a strong association with the vehicle emissions, such as PM 2.5 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particularly in colder months of the year, when higher admissions to emergency for depression take place.
“Perceived stress has been linked with increased likelihood of biological dysregulation including inflammation …and greater risk of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality... Both social and physical determinants (e.g., socioeconomic status, noise, crowding), of perceived stress have been evaluated …and it is also hypothesized from earlier studies that the association between air pollution and depression may be mediated by perception of air quality”
“Air pollution was associated with higher levels of perceived stress in this sample of older men, particularly in colder months for specific pollutants.”
“Fine particles (PM2.5), black carbon (BC), nitrogen dioxide, and particle number counts (PNC) at moving averages of 1, 2, and 4-weeks were associated with higher perceived stress ratings”
“Notably, PNC, BC, and NO2 are all traffic pollutants, suggesting that traffic emissions, and particularly fresh ultrafine particles, are the principal source of these associations.”
“a multi-city time series analysis demonstrated that same-day increases in air concentrations of carbon monoxide, and NO2 during warm months, and PM10 during cold months were associated with more emergency admissions for depression. If air pollution increases perceptions of stress, and higher levels of stress trigger more depressive symptoms and episodes, this may be one pathway by which air pollution alters depressive status.”