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Pathways linking residential noise and air pollution to mental ill-health in young adults

Dzhambov, Angel M., Markevych, Iana, Tilov, Boris, Arabadzhiev, Zlatoslav, Stoyanov, Drozdstoj, Gatseva, Penka, Dimitrova, Donka D.
Environmental research 2018 v.166 pp. 458-465
air pollution, land use, mental health, nitrogen dioxide, physical activity, questionnaires, regression analysis, sleep deprivation, social cohesion, structural equation modeling, students, young adults, Bulgaria
Recent years have seen growing, but still tentative, evidence of the potential associations of environmental noise and air pollution with mental disorders. In the present study, we aimed to examine the associations between residential noise and air pollution exposures and general mental health in young adults with a focus on underlying processesWe sampled 720 students (18–35 years) from one university in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Residential noise (LAeq; day equivalent noise level) and air pollution (NO2) were assessed at participant's residential address by land use regression models. General mental health was measured with a short form of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). The following putative mediators were considered: annoyance from environmental pollution, sleep disturbance, restorative quality of the neighborhood, neighborhood social cohesion, and commuting/leisure time physical activity. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the theoretically-indicated interplay between exposures, mediators, and GHQ.We observed an association between higher LAeq and GHQ, in which environmental annoyance and neighborhood restorative quality emerged as key mediators. First, LAeq was associated with higher annoyance, and through it with lower restorative quality, and then in turn with lower physical activity, and thus with higher GHQ. Simultaneously, higher annoyance was associated with higher sleep disturbance, and thereby with higher GHQ. NO2 had no overall association with GHQ, but it was indirectly associated with it through higher annoyance, lower restorative quality, and lower physical activity working in serial.We found evidence that increased residential noise was related to mental ill-health through several indirect pathways. Air pollution was associated with mental health only indirectly.