Ozone Exposure Tied to Adolescent Depressive Symptoms

Findings seen even in neighborhoods that meet national air quality standards

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WEDNESDAY, March 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Teens' exposure to higher ozone levels in their neighborhood is associated with increases in depressive symptoms over time, according to a study published online March 14 in Developmental Psychology.

Erika M. Manczak, Ph.D., from the University of Denver in Colorado, and colleagues examined whether levels of neighborhood ozone predict trajectories of depressive symptoms over a four-year period in 213 adolescents (aged 9 to 13 years at baseline; 57 percent female).

The researchers found that higher ozone predicted steeper increases in depressive symptoms across adolescent development, a pattern that was not observed for other forms of psychopathology symptoms. Adolescents who live in census tracts with relatively higher average ozone were at greater risk for experiencing trajectories of increasing depressive symptoms over time versus teens living in areas with lower levels of ozone, even when levels were below the 0.07 ppm national standard for ozone.

"This is the first study of ozone exposure to use repeated measurement of depressive symptoms in adolescents and to test competing possibilities that findings are accounted for by stress, socioeconomic resources, or neighborhood factors," the authors write. "This study adds to a growing body of research implicating air pollution not only in physical health outcomes, but also in youth mental health outcomes."

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