Significant Air Pollution Can Lead to Suicide

Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global study | Air  pollution | The Guardian

A recent study revealed that people who are exposed to air pollution are vulnerable to suicide and depression. The study used and analysed particle pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels in industrial plants, homes, and vehicles. 

Published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, the study chose and gathered research data from around 16 countries. Only data published until 2017 was included. What it showed is a link between air pollution, suicide, and depression.

Research data associated depression with particle pollution smaller than 2.5μm (micrometres). These particles are called PM2.5. 

If a person is exposed to over 10µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) of PM2.5 for one year or more, they have a higher risk of developing depression. Cities in the UK had an average PM2.5 level of 13µg/m3 in 2017; this number should have increased by now. 

Suicide risk data included particles from PM2.5 up to PM10. Although the effect is short-term, it is still a significant impact. Additionally, in a scenario where there is an increase of 10µg/m3 over a span of three days, suicide risk increases by at least 2%.

The study considered several factors that can affect mental health, including obesity, smoking, education, and income. Obesity and employment are also factors that researchers looked into before analysing the study. 

The small increases shouldn’t be taken for granted because these can still endanger people, especially since over 90% of the world’s population is exposed to toxic air whose density of pollutants exceeds WHO-mandated levels.

Small particles, specifically PM2.5, can easily get into the brain through the nose and the bloodstream. Researchers also indicated that air pollution can cause increased inflammation of the brain, changes in the production of stress hormones, and nerve cell damage – all of which weaken a person’s mental health. 

To reduce depression by around 2.5%, cities and countries should adhere to the World Health Organization-mandated limit of 10µg/m3.

Other studies

A newer study was also conducted and revealed how exposure to toxic air can affect the mortality rates of those suffering from mental health-related disorders. Teenagers also become more at risk for depression.

Another research discovered that air pollution can affect an individual’s intelligence and may cause dementia to develop. 

Additionally, a 2019 comprehensive global review revealed that every organ and cell in the body is damaged when a person is exposed to toxic air.  

Diesel emissions

One of the primary contributors to air pollution is diesel emissions, which come from road transport. Vehicles release nitrogen oxide or NOx, a highly reactive group of gases with adverse effects on both the environment and human health. Massive amounts of NOx emissions expose people to high levels of toxic air. A good example of this is the 2015 Dieselgate scandal.

The diesel emissions scandal that rocked the global automotive industry started with the Volkswagen Group receiving a note of violation from US authorities. The carmaker’s Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles were allegedly found equipped with defeat devices intended to manipulate testing and hide real emissions.

A defeat device detects when a vehicle is in the lab for testing and automatically (but temporarily) reduces emissions to within the WHO-mandated levels. This makes the vehicle appear fuel-efficient and emissions-compliant during testing. However, once it is taken out of the lab and driven in real-world road conditions, the vehicle emits excessive volumes of NOx, which makes it a pollutant.

By marketing and selling their diesel vehicles as eco-friendly and fuel-efficient, the VW Group deceived their clientele and endangered the lives of their customers and everyone around them. 

Aside from Volkswagen, other carmakers have  also potentially been caught using defeat devices including Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Vauxhall, and BMW, among others.  

NOx emissions

Nitrogen oxide emissions are dangerous for the environment. Its primary components are nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). NOx produces pollutants such as ground-level ozone, acid rain and smog. It affects vegetation; crops and other plants weaken and get damaged easily by adverse weather conditions.

NOx affects a person’s mental and cognitive health. Depression and anxiety attacks become more frequent. They can also develop dementia because of weakened cognitive abilities. 

If a person is exposed to NOx emissions, they can experience the following health conditions (depending on their level of exposure):

  • Asthma
  • Lung problems (ex. fluid can get into the lungs)
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Chronic reduction of lung function
  • Laryngospasm or vocal cords spasm
  • Asphyxiation
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchitis
  • Other respiratory conditions
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Premature death

These impacts are the reasons why affected carmakers are encouraged to bring forward an emissions claim against their carmaker. Manufacturers should be held responsible for their illegal actions.

But how do I start my diesel claim?

The diesel claim process can be long and tedious but working with emissions experts will help solve this problem for you.

However, only specific models and manufacturing dates are included in the claim. Due to this, the first thing you should do is verify your eligibility to bring forward an emissions claim. You can do this by visiting, where you’ll find all the information you need to start moving your diesel claim forward.

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