UK – The risk of death for people with mental and behavioural disorders rises sharply on days when air pollution reaches toxic peaks, a major study in Hong Kong has found.
Researchers analysed a decade of death statistics and revealed a strong link, with the mortality risk rising 16% on the first day of haze and 27% on the second day compared to normal days. If the haze was accompanied by high ozone pollution, the risk of death increased by 79%.
The new research tallies with other recent work that has found links between short-term increases in air pollution and suicides. However, scientists do not yet understand how air pollution may cause these effects and they are urging more research, as well as immediate help for those at risk.
“First of all we need more support to those high-risk groups,” said Lin Yang, at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and one of the research team. “Currently we have a lot of social workers to give support to people with mental disorders. But they probably need to pay attention to the fact that haze events could be a trigger for acute onset of symptoms.”