Short-term PM2.5 exposure and emergency hospital admissions for mental disease

Suji Lee, Whanhee Lee, Dahye Kim, Ejin Kim, Woojae Myung, Sun Young Kim, Ho Kim

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20 Scopus citations


Epidemiologic studies regarding the relationship between short-term exposure to particulate matter with a median aerodynamic diameter < 2.5 µm (PM2.5) and mental disease are limited. This study examined the effects of short-term exposure to PM2.5 on emergency admissions to the hospital for mental disease in Seoul, Korea. Data regarding 80,634 emergency admissions for mental diseases were collected from a nationally centralized healthcare claims database in Seoul during 2003–2013. Generalized linear models with climate variables were used to examine associations between short-term PM2.5 exposure and mental disease admissions. To comprehensively assess PM2.5 effects, we used single- and two-pollutant models, which considered other pollutants in combination with PM2.5. The relative risk (RR) of emergency admissions for mental disease was 1.008 (95% confidence interval, 1.001–1.015) for each 10 μg/m3 increase in 2-day average PM2.5 concentration. This effect persisted or became slightly stronger in the two-pollutant models that included carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, or sulfur dioxide (RR, 1.01–1.021), but association appeared to be limited to individuals < 65 years of age. Significant association was estimated only during the warm season (RR, 1.021–1.023) in the two-pollutant models. The exposure–response curve was steeper at lower concentrations, suggesting that the risk of mental disease at lower concentrations of pm2.5 (0–30 µg/m3). PM2.5 was associated with increased admissions even when it was below the World Health Organization's Air Quality Guidelines (25 μg/m3), but the association was not statistically significant. Thus, based on the data from a large database, exposure to PM2.5 was associated with increases in emergency admissions for mental diseases, and this association was significant during the warm season. PM2.5 may even affect mental disease at levels below the current air quality guidelines. These results provide substantial insight regarding the effects of air pollutants and have important implications for policy makers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-320
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Air pollution
  • Mental disease
  • PM
  • Particulate matter
  • Short-term exposure

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