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Background: There is mixed evidence suggesting that air pollution may be associated with increased risk of developing psychiatric disorders. We aimed to investigate the association between air pollution and non-specific perceived stress, often a precursor to development of affective psychiatric disorders. Methods: This longitudinal analysis consisted of 987 older men participating in at least one visit for the Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study between 1995 and 2007 (n∈=∈2,244 visits). At each visit, participants were administered the 14-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), which quantifies stress experienced in the previous week. Scores ranged from 0-56 with higher scores indicating increased stress. Differences in PSS score per interquartile range increase in moving average (1, 2, and 4-weeks) of air pollution exposures were estimated using linear mixed-effects regression after adjustment for age, race, education, physical activity, anti-depressant medication use, seasonality, meteorology, and day of week. We also evaluated effect modification by season (April-September and March-October for warm and cold season, respectively). Results: Fine particles (PM 2.5), 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. The strongest associations were observed for PNC; for example, a 15,997 counts/cm 3 interquartile range increase in 1-week average PNC was associated with a 3.2 point (95%CI: 2.1-4.3) increase in PSS score. Season modified the associations for specific pollutants; higher PSS scores in association with PM 2.5, BC, and sulfate were observed mainly in colder months. Conclusions: Air pollution was associated with higher levels of perceived stress in this sample of older men, particularly in colder months for specific pollutants.
Mehta, A. J., Kubzansky, L. D., Coull, B. A., Kloog, I., Koutrakis, P., Sparrow, D., … Schwartz, J. (2015). Associations between air pollution and perceived stress: The Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study -No section-. Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-069X-14-10