Traffic-related air pollution exposure increases the risk of depressive disorders

In a new study published in BMC Publc Health, Ingrid Pelgrims and colleagues studied the association between urban environment and mental health in Brussels, Belgium.

The study linked data from the national health interview surveys (2008 and 2013) with specifically developed indicators describing each participant’s surroundings in terms of air quality, noise, surrounding green, and building morphology, based on the geographical coordinates of the participant’s residence. The results suggest that traffic-related air pollution (black carbon, NO2, PM10) exposure is positively associated with higher odds of depressive disorders. No association could be demonstrated between green surrounding, noise, building morphology and mental health.

The publication is available via


ELLIS is funded by the Belgian Federal Science Policy (BELSPO) through the BRAIN-be 2.0 (2018-2023) programme.

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Project coordinator

Prof. dr. Brecht Devleesschauwer

Sciensano, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Service Lifestyle and Chronic Diseases