Does air pollution turn people into violent perpetrators? Scientists fear that harmful gases can disrupt the brain
- When the air is dirty, more violent crime is committed, American researchers found
- Two million people in London live in areas with illegal air pollution
- Violent crime went up when the air was more polluted in poor and rich areas
The deadly effects of air pollution on health are known, but scientists now fear that some people may become violent perpetrators.
When the air is dirty, more violent crime is committed, researchers found after conducting a huge investigation into 13 years of data on 86 million people in the United States.
Airborne particles and harmful gases can disrupt the proper functioning of the brain, making people more inclined to act aggressively, the researchers think.
When the air is dirty, more violent crime is committed, researchers found after conducting an investigation of 86 million people in the United States (stock image)
The study, just published in the online version of the journal Epidemiology, is likely to lead to further calls to UK cities to clean up their action, by demonstrating that air pollution can affect behavior, not just physical health.
In London alone, two million people live in areas with illegal air pollution, according to a recent report from the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory.
It is not surprising that busy and polluted cities experience more violent crime.
But researchers not only looked at more violent crime in polluted places. Instead, they looked at how registered violations increased and fell over time in 301 different US provinces – urban, suburbs and rural areas – and whether there was a connection with air pollution measurements.
Simply put, they asked if the crime went up when the air pollution increased. For non-violent crimes such as theft, the answer was & # 39; no & # 39 ;. But there was a connection for violent crime.
Airborne particles and harmful gasses can disrupt brain functions, making people more inclined to act aggressively (stock image)
The research team, from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Colorado State University, wrote: & Our study identifies a link between air pollution and violent crime at the provincial level … We see that violent crime increases by 1.17 percent for each 10 micrograms per cubic meter increase in daily (fine) particulate matter and 0.59 percent for each increase of 10 parts per billion in daily ozone, the majority of the effect being caused by an increase in attacks. & # 39;
Violent crime went up as the air became more polluted, both in poor and rich areas. Previous studies in mice and dogs have shown that those animals are exposed to high levels of fine suspended particles – found in diesel fumes – exhibiting "increased aggressiveness, territoriality and preference for direct rewards," they noted.
& # 39; Similarly, exposure to air pollution can increase anxiety, which can lead to criminal and unethical behavior, & # 39; they went on.
"An impulsive and aggressive response can explain why air pollution is accompanied by increased violent, but not non-violent, crime.
"We carefully interpret this result as evidence of acute neurological and behavioral effects on the health of air pollution and we need to investigate the effect trajectory further."
They also pointed out that earlier research & # 39; has indicated that metal components of particulate matter, especially manganese and mercury, can contribute to more aggressive and violent behavior & # 39 ;.
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